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.
- Introduction to Sociology, Chapter 5 (Opinions)
- Introduction to Sociology, Chapter 5: Online Appendix (Advanced reading)
Also for this chapter I recorded several short videos (3-7 min.). So in case you don’t fully understand these parts after reading the chapter, or just don’t like to read a lot :), then take a look at these videos.
Test your knowledge of Chapter 5
- Take the Multiple Choice Quiz here.
What do you want to do next?
Read more! Good news. There are many interesting books and articles about the materials covered in this chapter. You can find suggestions for further reading here.
Watch more! Also good news. The internet is an incredible source, where you can find fascinating educational lectures for free. Here is a selection: