Dissimilation and differential assimilation in social influence (situations of ‘normalization’)
Article first published online: 22 FEB 2006
Copyright © 1975 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd
European Journal of Social Psychology
Volume 5, Issue 1, pages 93–120, January/March 1975
How to Cite
Lemaine, G. (1975), Dissimilation and differential assimilation in social influence (situations of ‘normalization’). Eur. J. Soc. Psychol., 5: 93–120. doi: 10.1002/ejsp.2420050106
- Issue published online: 22 FEB 2006
- Article first published online: 22 FEB 2006
We have presented two experiments on the processes of normalization (appraisal of an ambiguous stimulus). In the first experiment, pairs of subjects were taken from natural groups whose structure and functioning we had previously studied; the subjects were paired off in terms of (a) sociometric choices which they had put forward and (b) difference in hierarchical position in the ordinary life of the group. In the second experiment a definite image of the other ‘subject’ (an accomplice) was created in the subject such that he appeared very similar or very different to him (in areas in no way connected with the task). Furthermore, in the ‘collective’ phase of the estimation the accomplice replied exactly like the subject or in a way which was remote or very remote from the subject's replies.
We did not observe the contrast phenomenon described by some authors, but we were able to show that the patterns of interaction of everyday life, stabilized social relationships or images of the other which are unconnected with the tasks to be performed play a role in the influence that the replies of one subject have on those of another. Apart from differential assimilation we have shown a process of dissimilation, these two phenomena being, in our opinion, rooted in the structures of action of the social agents' lives.
Negotiation in influence is rarely something symmetrical, even in situations of normalization where the dissymmetry of everyday life can be transfered. We have shown, too, that in these types of situations the subjects do not always try to minimize conflict since when they are in agreement (there is nothing to negotiate) they can diverge from one another. It can thus be said that subjects are not rational in the usual sense and are quite clearly something different from logicians or statisticians. The explanation which we have outlined shows how notions of social identity, differentiation and otherness are brought into play.