Introduction to Sociology course

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.


Ch. 5
Ch. 5.3Conformity
Ch. 5.5Social Learning Theory

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