• Abby Flyer

Updated: Jan 5, 2020

You’re at the mall with a group of friends, and your best friend Jen is trying on a new shirt. She asks everyone how it looks, and your friends all sing their praises. Personally, you think the shirt is drab and ugly, but you don’t want to be the only voice of discontent, so when Jen looks at you, you give her an encouraging thumbs up.

You’ve just fallen prey to conformity, the changing of behavior to fit in with a group. Don’t worry; you’re not the first. We humans are social butterflies. Whether it’s in a department store fitting room, on the football field, or in the office, no one wants to be the odd one out.

This scenario is a specific type of conformity, known as normative social influence. Normative social influence is when we change our behavior to appeal to social norms or avoid being rejected by a group. Conformity can also take the form of informational social influence, which is when we accept the opinions of others because we doubt our own. What if everyone you met today told you that your green shirt was purple? You might start to question your own eyes and agree with the group consensus.

Conformity isn’t always a bad thing. Perhaps telling Jen that her shirt looked great was the right decision; she really seemed to like it! To a degree, conformity can be useful in creating functional, organized groups. When everyone on the football team wears the same identifiable uniform, it helps the fans know which players they should be cheering for. If your friends are always talking about Game of Thrones, it might make sense to watch an episode or two to help you join in on their conversations. It’s important to remember when to be a trendsetter and when to go with the flow—there are times for both!

#study #conformity #socialpsychology #normativesocialinfluence #informationalsocialinfluence #abbyflyer

  • Yena Kim

Updated: Jan 5, 2020

Analyze the photograph that's shown above. What do you see?

How about this photograph? Anything peculiar?

If you saw faces for both of the images, then consider yourself crazy... or should you?

Human beings are pattern-finding machines. However, some things that we sense may be completely random and have no significant meaning to them. When we run into such data, it is very common for people to quickly detect familiar features in meaningless stimuli and come across surprising discoveries. If this sounds like your life story, then welcome to the pareidolia club!

To put it simply, pareidolia is a psychological phenomenon that happens when people find meaning in random stimuli, whether they come in the form of a visual or a sound. Although they don't always have to be faces, we often recognize faces in the most random places, such as clouds, artistically-burnt pieces of toast, and the backs of cars.

Sure, they're fun to look for when you're bored, or perhaps you automatically do them all the time. But when I perceive faces in random places, I can't help myself but to think, "What is the meaning of finding meaning in meaningless things?"

#study #pareidolia #yenakim #patterns #cognitivepsychology

Updated: Jan 5, 2020

From the day we first learn about Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and the Civil Rights Movement in elementary school, words like "discrimination" and "prejudice" frequently get thrown around left and right. They're important concepts, but people tend to use them interchangeably when discussing social issues that come up in life. And we get it, they all sound pretty similar.

Do people intentionally jumble them up together? Probably not.

But let's try to clear up the confusion.

It all starts when we get outside information about people of different groups from some kind of source, whether it be your family, media, or even your own experience. We gain ideas about these particular group members, and these ideas allow us to create certain expectations of them.

Take this chicken in the comic for example. One day, the chicken goes on its laptop and discovers that members of the cat species commit the highest rates of crime.

Let's say the chicken connects crime with being "dangerous." The chicken now establishes a stereotype as it takes the adjective of being dangerous and completely overgeneralizes an entire group. In this situation, the chicken says, "All cat people must be very dangerous!"

As you can see, the chicken notices a customer, which is a cat, and takes a rather dramatic moment to pay attention to the customer. This relatively fixed change in perspective is known as bias.

Poor kitty! The chicken has an undeserved, negative attitude towards the cat and mentally grumbles at its customer. At this point, it's important to notice that the chicken does not display an obvious action towards the cat... yet. This unfair attitude is called prejudice.

While prejudice is what I think, discrimination is what I do. The chicken acts on its prejudice of the entire cat species and chooses to engage in discrimination by physically kicking out the harmless customer.

All of these concepts often work together to create interesting results, and it isn't uncommon to see people hold certain stereotypes. How can we explain this behavior? What can we do to prevent it?

#study #stereotypes #bias #prejudice #discrimination #comic #socialpsychology #yenakim