Chapter 5. Opinions
What shapes your preferences? Why do you believe in certain things? This lecture is about opinions, i.e., our beliefs, values and attitudes, and about behavior that corresponds to opinions. We will review theoretical and empirical work, covering self-fulfilling prophecies, classic laboratory experiments on conformity, sociological studies on social influence processes in the family, among peers in school and media messages. We will outline two mechanisms which can explain conformity, namely: learning from other people (informational social influence) and complying with norms (normative social influence). It is the idea of informational social influence that sociologists have generalized into a more comprehensive theory on social learning. I will discuss this theory and identify several social learning biases, i.e., conditions that modify the tendency to conform.
Power Point slides
- Chapter 5 lecture slides
- Chapter 5 definitions of key concepts
Test your knowledge
Additional chapter resources
- Self-fulfilling prophecy: watch this videos and also this one on the Pygmalion Effect.
- Conformity: see these videos on Solomon Asch line judgment experiments (with original recording!).
- Social learning theory: a nice video on popularity bias and social proof (everyone is watching this video :)).
- Diffusion of innovations: watch this and this.