Assignment 1: Conformity and Social Influence
How do reasonable people go along with unreasonable ideas, including mass suicide? How do charismatic leaders create their own “culture” within a specific situation and setting and then bring followers along? It is unsettling to consider that researchers have found that almost anyone will obey orders if placed in the right situation.
For this Assignment, you will explore the role of conformity and social influence in the dynamics of a cult. Keep in mind the definition of “culture” as you examine how a powerful leader can create a distinct culture, or “cult,” that others join and follow: a set of attitudes, behaviors, and symbols shared by a large group of people (Shiraev & Levy, 2017, p. 4) .
Review the sections in Chapter 10 of your course text, beginning with “Universal Interaction” (p. 301), and pay particular attention to the content on conformity, obedience, leadership, and social power.
Your Week 5 Learning Resources provide information on three different cults and their leaders in recent U.S. history: Jim Jones and the People’s Temple, David Koresh and the Branch Davidians, and Marshall Applewhite and Heaven’s Gate. You are encouraged to choose one as the focus of your Assignment. Additional Learning Resources provide insights on the dynamics of a cult.
Note: If you prefer to choose a different leader and group, check with your instructor first for approval.
For your focus leader, review and analyze the Module 5 Learning Resources provided and additional resources you find in the Walden Library or in other sources, including reputable websites, to complete this Assignment.
For your focus leader and group, think about how each may exemplify the concepts of conformity, obedience, and social power:
How the leader builds a “culture” with its own rules outside of the larger culture
What elements compel followers to conform, such as charisma, isolation, and/or fear
Use the Learning Resources provided and those you find to analyze your leader and followers as an example of a situational development of a “culture” through conformity, obedience, and social power.
By Day 7
Submit a 2 – to 3-page research paper in which you do the following:
Describe the leader and followers who are the subject of your analysis.
Analyze how the leader created a distinct “culture” for followers and what elements of a culture were present in the setting.
Analyze how the leader used social power to influence followers.
Analyze elements that created conformity and obedience among the followers.
Explain how your chosen leader’s use of social influence applies to the leaders in your culture (e.g., local, academic, political, or other types of leaders you identify).
Note: Support the responses within your Assignment with evidence from the assigned Learning Resources and those you found. Provide a reference list for resources you used for this Assignment.
Submission and Grading Information
To submit your completed Assignment for review and grading, do the following:
Please save your Assignment using the naming convention “WK5Assgn1+last name+first initial.(extension)” as the name.
Click the Week 5 Assignment 1 Rubric to review the Grading Criteria for the Assignment.
Click the Week 5 Assignment 1 link. You will also be able to “View Rubric” for grading criteria from this area.
Next, from the Attach File area, click on the Browse My Computer button. Find the document you saved as “WK5Assgn1+last name+first initial.(extension)” and click Open.
If applicable: From the Plagiarism Tools area, click the checkbox for I agree to submit my paper(s) to the Global Reference Database.
Click on the Submit button to complete your submission.