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Conformity and Bystander Effect

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Tooba Mashhadi

on 7 May 2014

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Transcript of Conformity and Bystander Effect

Catcher in the Rye
Conformity is a type of social influence involving a change in belief or behavior in order to fit in with a group
Tooba, Jenny, Mahnoor, Jennifer
Conformity and Bystander Effect
Mean Girls
An example of conformity shown in the movie Mean Girls is when the main character, Caty has to deal with an environment that forces her to change herself to fit in.

-e.g. Rules of the Plastics ( to sit with them, you need to wear fashionable clothes, wear your hair a certain way everyday and always receive the final decision for clothing purchasing from your "friends")
A major theme in this novel is the painfulness of growing up and Holden is a character who always resisted the process of maturity. In this situation, Holden rebels against conformity. He does not want to deal with the complexity of adulthood and considers it a dangerous and hypocritical world.
What is Conformity?

- Failing to help the victim if there are other people present
- two factors
1) diffusion of responsibility
2) Social influence

- How someone is influenced by those around them and adopt to certain behaviors, thoughts..etc - People think as a group rather than individuals
- Excitement can escalate emotions, causing people to do things that they normally wouldn't do.

- Piggy is the victim
- Simon the defender
- Jack the Bully
- the rest of the boys the followers and supporters
- Ralph’s role wavers from bully to supporter

Chapter 9
- Simon is the victim
- Jack the bully
- All the other boys are the henchmen

- Piggy is constantly bullied while the other boys look away
or join the bulling
- The first words Jack speaks to Piggy are “you’re talking too much, shut up fatty” and everyone laughs until Ralph says, “his real name is Piggy” making the laughter increase and encouraging the boys to continue taunting Piggy and tease him for his nickname and looks (Golding, 17)

- When piggy says, “you didn’t ought to let the fire out…” to Jack, Jack becomes violent and punches piggy and then smacks Piggy’s head, breaking one of the lenses in Piggy's glasses (Golding, 75)
-Simon gets Piggy’s glasses for him, while the others stand there as bystanders and start laughing when Jack mimics Piggy.

- “At this moment the boys who were cooking at the fire suddenly hauled off a great chunk of meat…they bumped Piggy who was burnt, and yelled and danced. Immediately, Ralph and the crowd of boys were reunited and laughing. Piggy once more was the center of social derision so that everyone felt cheerful and normal.” (Golding, 165)

- When Jack’s tribe is performing the wild hunting dance, they are so excited and engrossed in their ritual that even Ralph and Piggy join the borders of the group. Thus when they see the shadowy figure (Simon) they don’t recognize him, partly because it’s dark and partly because of the wild state they are in (dancing and mind in a drunken kind of state). Mistaking Simon as the beast they start to tear him apart with their bare hands and teeth causing him to bleed to death. (Golding, 167-169)

- Lady Macbeth knew that Macbeth was behind the murder of Banquo, yet she remained silent, she stood as a bystander through it all.
- She could have done something about it and made Macbeth pay for his actions, yet she did nothing.
- Perhaps she was afraid that Macbeth would bring her down with him by exposing her as Duncan's murderer.

TO SHORT STORIES read in class
The Day of the Last Rock Fight - Joseph Whitechill
When Ronnie witnesses Peter about to throw huge rock at Gene Hanlon during rock fight, Ronnie doesn't take a stand to prevent the murder, but hides and watch it happen.
Before Ronnie sees Peter, he is confident. Even tries to throw a rock at Gene for the purpose of the game.
But when he sees that Peter is about to murder Gene and things weren't just fun and games, loses all confidence and hides, feeling scared to step into situation.
If other kids were there too, and at least one reacted to Peter about to commit murder, Ronnie would've had more confidence to join in to prevent.
But Ronnie was alone and felt the PRESSURE OF RESPONSIBILITY, where if something were to go more wrong because of him, he would take all the blame for it.
The Lottery - Shirley Jackson
When Tessie Hutchinson is chosen for the lottery to be killed, close neighbors, even her young kids all grab a stone & aim at her to throw.
When Hutchinson family were drawing for the final lottery, Nancy and Bill Jr., the little kids of the family is oblivious, but follows with the draw since Tessie and Bill; their parents are doing it as well.
"Nancy and Bill Jr. opened theirs at the same time. and both beamed and laughed turning around to the crowd and holding their slips of paper above their heads" (Jackson 6).
All taking part in lottery are bystanders. Even if they were against the tradition, they all participate anyway, since everyone else is doing the same thing, and has been for a history of time.
Even Tessie's young kids are given pebbles to throw & follow with the murdering of their own Mother, due to the others doing so & encouraging as well.
When Ralph challenges Jack,
"Going to be a storm, and you'll have rain like shelters? What are you going to do about that?"
(Golding 167), Jack orders his hunter tribe to do the 'dance' to show Ralph their power.
As Roger mimed the terror of the pig, hunters reenacted the killing of the pig.
Piggy and Ralph, watching this, wants to be included in the dance to feel as if they're a part of the strong, unified and powerful group.
"Piggy and Ralph, under the threat of the sky, found themselves eager to take a place in this demented but partly secure society" (Golding 167).
Due to the influence of the hunter tribe and their unity through the dance, Piggy and Ralph joins in.
Although they don't support the hunters and claim that they're righteous and strong in their own tribe, as kids, they don't do anything to stop the obnoxious act but rather feel the need to be included, to feel accepted.
Power of large group doing a certain act. Makes surrounding people want/feel the need to do the same, rather than going solo & expressing own values/opinions.
When the hunters mistaken Simon as the beast, screams altogether,
"Kill the beast! Cut his throat! Spill his blood!"
(Golding 168).
Piggy and Ralph, feeling powerless due to the overpowering of the hunters, doesn't take stand to protect Simon from the murder, but rather joins in with the hunters & their loss of sanity, watches the murder happen.
The town's people from The Lottery, and Ralph & Piggy from Lord of the Flies are both influenced by the presence of a mass group surrounding them, by becoming a bystander who decides how to react according to others' reactions.
Ronnie from The Day of the Last Rock Fight is also influenced by the bystander effect, by deciding not to stand up for righteousness due to fear of ruining things for Peter even more, & himself.
Pluralistic ignorance & Social influence
Pressure of responsibility
The 3 types of conformity
when pressures from society influence a person’s actions and beliefs but they have a hidden internal viewpoint
changing personal views or behaviours to form gratifying and rewarding relations with others or to feel similar to another person/group of people
Bystander Effect
when one is entirely influenced to the point that they are behaving and viewing things according to social pressures and wanting to be correct (different from compliance as they do not oppose internally)
Proves that people usually wait for somone else to take the stand first.
Reduce amount of pressure on self, not willing to take 100% responsibility for being the only witness/helper, fear of danger, fear of stepping up
Many individuals don't find it absolutely necessary to get involved in situations where someone needs help, since they believe others will take care of the situation.
Reactions that contribute to conformity
Past cases based on the Bystander Effect
The 'Wang Yue' incident
Chinese toddler 'Wang Yue' was run over by 2 vehicles, left bleeding helplessly in the streets in Foshan (city in southern province of Guandong).
After being hit by first vehicle, more than a dozen (about 18 people) passed by her the next 7 minutes, before she gets run over with a second truck.
Long later, eventually a woman pulled her to side of street, before her Mom came to the scene.
Eventually taken to hospital, was alive for more than a week, but died of brain failure.
Distortion of perception:
The majority is influential to one’s choices/thoughts

Distortion of judgement:
Due to lack of confidence, a person may perceive their own views as incorrect

Distortion of action:
Observing behaviours but not informing others due to humiliation or embarrassment
Woman who passed by with her daughter said: "If someone was helping at that time, "I would have done the same." - Bystander Effect; was waiting for someone to help first.
Psychologists studying human behavior in tragic situations would find nothing extraordinary, since it's not unusual for people to wait for someone else to do something first.
Why people choose to conform
As a result, citizens of China called out to the Government to create a 'Good Samaritan Law" to punish those who pass by & refuse to help people n need.
Informational influence: one may believe original beliefs/opinions are wrong due to another’s behaviour or think someone else’s response is more accurate than theirs
Experiments in 1968 -
"As the number of bystanders increase, the probability of any individual bystander intervening goes down",
- Joachim Krueger of Brown U. on CNN
Wish to avoid punishment: wanting to prevent humiliation/embarrassment or receive rewards (usually relates within social representation and effects)
The murder of Shanda Renee Sharer
12 year old girl Shanda Sharer was tortured and burned to death in Madison Indiana by 4 teenage girls
Laurie Tackett, Melinda Loveless (lead murder), Hope Rippey, Toni Lawrence.
Groups create barriers to independent behaviour
Countless attempts to kill Sharer out of revenge for 'stealing Loveless's girlfriend'
By putting knife to throat, tying her up and discussing how to kill her, Lawrence beating her savagely with her fists, stabbing with kitchen knife, beating her unconscious with tire iron, burned her in the neighborhood burning area at last.
Why people choose to conform
When beating started, Lawrence and Rippey claimed that they wanted to get out of the situation, but couldn't dare try to run and call the police since their friends were a part of it & fear.
Risk of disapproval from other group members:
by differing too far from society’s norms, one may experience exclusion
Connects to The Last Day of the Rock Fight -
Ronnie did not dare tell on Peter or go against him.
Lord of the Flies -
Ralph & Piggy did not dare stop Jack and his hunter tribe from killing Simon, because they too were involved & got swept away.
Lack of perceived alternatives:
one may not recognize/be aware that they have more options apart from conformity (may think that it is their last resort)
Lawrence claimed that she was so disgusted but still refused to rat our her friends at first.
Fear of disrupting the group's operations:
one may worry that independence will hinder achieving group goals
Lawrence then got scared to death, & at last called a friend of same age & told her what happened.
Absence of communication among group members:
lack of clear information, so one will just go with it
Refused to call police, now out of fear as an accomplice.
Noone called the police until the end, Sharer's body was found by 2 hunters early that morning of June 11th.
Why people choose to conform
A sense of powerlessness:
when one feels that they are indifferent and cannot change or improve a situation
1. If there was a crime scene happening right infront of your eyes, and you were the ONLY witness, what would you do?
No feeling of responsibility for group outcomes:
when one is hesitant to contribute effectively and does not want to be accountable for the group’s objective
2. Similarly, if there was a crime scene happening right infront of your eyes and there were many other witnesses, what would you do? Would your reaction be any different from number 1?
3. If you were Piggy or Ralph, do you think you would have been able to help Simon from being murdered?
Other times, conformity may be negatively influential which creates regretful or hurt feelings and also may lead to trouble
Factors that affect conformity
Group size – larger groups tend to have higher rates of conformity

Group unanimity – when there is group agreement, participant conformity is high

Public vs. private response – when participants can give private answers, conformity decreases

Ambiguous situations/difficult tasks – looking to others for information, assuming the others know what to do

Status of members/group – if a person is more knowledge or has more authority (e.g. teachers)
Conformity in Lord of the Flies
Conformity may be positive in people's lives since it helps reach group agreements and decisions

- for example in the beginning when everyone immediately decides to pick a chief and they reach the agreement that Ralph should be chief

4. Do you think the Bystander effect is understandable or unacceptable?
Chapter 1
It seemed like piggy was hesitant in raising his hand for Ralph but he had no choice because it was either Jack or Ralph and he didn’t know Jack
During the vote for Ralph, piggy probably felt the pressure to vote for ralph since the majority already put their hands up and he didn’t yet
In the beginning of the story, all of the boys who were alive on the island needed to conform to the rules that Ralph proposed
Conformity in Lord of the Flies
Chapter 9
Piggy insists on going to Jack’s feast despite that they lost their fire because of them
Piggy changes his attitude towards Jack and his feast because he is extremely hungry and everyone else had also gone to the feast
Conformity in Lord of the Flies
Chapter 9 - Conformity is especially evident in this chapter
During the gathering, everyone turns hysteric and are blind to what they’re doing
Ralph’s few remaining members (Piggy, Sam, Eric and the Littluns) consider joining Jack’s side

Other Examples of Conformity
Freaks and Geeks
Geeks who were trying to fit in and also try to fit into the label of 'cool'
-this is identification conformity which is basically when a person conforms by changing their views and actions so they can seem more similar to another group of people
A good mathlete student finds herself in the rebellious crew at her school and eventually gets into a lot of trouble because of their heavy influence
- this is internalization conformity because she is influenced by her friends which changes her view and behaviours to the extent that she believes it is what she actually thinks and wants
Other Examples of Conformity
A Complicated Kindness
Nomi feels isolated because she doesn’t conform to her community or her town’s norms as a Mennonite and doesn't consider herself a 'good mennonite
She has different beliefs and values compared to her towns peoples
Nomi is an example of a non-conformist
Social nonconformity is the refusal to comply with society's standard for normal attitudes, behaviors, and beliefs.
Discussion Questions!
4. Who do you think in the Lord of the Flies conforms the most to their society?
3. Describe the conformity seen in Lord of the Flies in Chapter 9? (Compliance, Identification or Internalization?)
1. How does Caty from Mean Girls portray conformity?
2. What sector of Maslow's pyramid corresponds to conformity?
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