Group Dynamics of Social Psychology

When studying for the AP Psychology exam having the right prep materials is crucial.

But sometimes all you need is a quick review and not pages upon pages of content.

Which is why we're here! 

On this page we'll go over

  • Conformity, compliance, and obedience.
  • Normative VS informational norms
  • Performance differences due to observers

Conformity, Compliance, & Obedience

You walk in a room and everyone is standing in line. You join the line. This is conformity.

You walk in a room and your friend asks you to bring him a piece of candy from a different room. You do so. This is compliance.

You walk into a room and a policeman tells you to get out. You listen to him and leave. This is obedience.

So, what's the difference? 

Conformity is pretty self-explanatory. You either don't know how to act in a situation so you look to the people around you to do what they do (informational influence), or you know how to act in a situation but you look around and see other people doing something different so you do the same because you don't want to stand out or look stupid (normative influence.)

Compliance is when someone who doesn't have authority over you asks you to do something for them. This can be a friend, your little brother, or your coworker.

Obedience is when someone who has authority over you tells you to do something as in the Milgram experiment.

Social Facilitation

It's doesn't take a genius to realize that we perform differently on tasks that we do in front of others compared to ones that we do when we're alone.

The more interesting question is why that happens, and which tasks specifically we perform better or worse on.

Typically if the task is simple or we have learned it well, we perform better in front of the crowd than we would by ourselves.

If, instead, the task is new to us or difficult, we perform worse in front of the crowd than we would when we would alone.

There's two theories to why this happens, and both of them seem to play a part in the explanation:

  • The Mere Presence of Others theory states that simply having other people in the room affects our performance 
  • The Evaluation Apprehension theory states that it's specifically our concern about being evaluated by others that affects our performance. 

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