Psychology (Social Influence.) Mind Map on Conformity., created by Stephanie Price on 05/24/2013.
Stephanie Price
Mind Map by Stephanie Price, updated more than 1 year ago
Stephanie Price
Created by Stephanie Price over 10 years ago

Resource summary

  1. Defined by Baron et al. (2006): 'A type of social influence in which individuals change their attitudes, beliefs or behaviour in order to adhere to existing social norms'.
    1. This definition emphasises the importance of social norms as a key social cause of people conforming. Social norms are just one example (albeit an important one) of a majority view.
      1. As such, conformity can be said to occur in any situation where a person or small group of people is exposed to a majority and conform. Conformity, then, can be seen as majority influence.
    2. Classic Studies of Conformity.
      1. Research Study: Sherif (1936)
        1. Conducted numerous experiments using the autokinetic effect. Where participants had no previous experience of the autokinetic effect, he found that conformity to a majority view happened very quickly.
          1. In general, Sherif found that in ambiguous situations, such as those presented by the autokinetic effect, the less previous experience a person has of the situation, the more powerful conformity to the majority view will be.
          2. Asch's Study of Conformity.
            1. Research Study: Asch (1951)
              1. Asch wanted to know whether or not people would conform to a majority view when the majority view was obviously wrong. He investigated conformity using a simple perceptual task in which participants were asked to state which of three comparison lines was the same length as the target line.
                1. Asch interviewed each participant after they had taken part in his study. The participants who had agreed with the majority gave various reasons for their behaviour.
                  1. E.g. They they did not want to spoil the experimenter's results; that they did not want to be different to the others; that they had actually made the correct judgements; and that they might have been suffering from eye strain.
                2. Asch (1955) said that while the studies of Sherif (1936) showed some aspects of conformity, they did not demonstrate how social or group pressure would affect the judgements people make when there is clearly a right or wrong answer.
              2. Types of Conformity.
                1. Internalisation.
                  1. This is where the individual accepts the majority group view and believes that view to be correct.
                    1. We may call this 'private acceptance', where a person conforms to other people's behaviour in the genuine belief that they are right.
                    2. The Sherif experiment is a good example of internalisation or private acceptance. His findings suggest that in ambiguous situations, people rely on each other to decide what is right and then they stay with this view.
                    3. Compliance.
                      1. This is where a person conforms to other people's behaviours or attitudes, but does not believe them to be correct.
                        1. This is when you go along with other people's views, or do what they do, to 'keep the peace', or not cause any conflict or disagreement with others.
                          1. It would be best to call this 'public compliance' because you are agreeing with others publicly, even if you think they are wrong.
                          2. The Asch experiment is a good example of compliance, since participants gave various reasons for agreeing with the majority that were to do with not upsetting other people. Very few participants in Asch's experiment actually believed the incorrect majority view.
                        2. Explanations for Conformity.
                          1. People follow social norms. Many social norms are a product of our upbringing and socialisation.
                            1. Social norms are rules, which may be written or unwritten, guiding how people are expected to behave in many social situations.
                            2. Normative Social Influence.
                              1. This is where people conform to maintain the harmony of the group, to avoid rejection by the group or gain approval from others.
                                1. The result of normative social influence is that people publicly comply with the majority view or the social norms of a group.
                                  1. However, privately they disagree or hold different views to the majority.
                                  2. Normative social influence can be seen in many aspects of our daily lives. E.g. Clothing fashions change every year.
                                  3. Research Study: Anderson et al. (1992)
                                  4. Informational Social Influence.
                                    1. This is the conformity to the majority as a result of information (things you did not know, persuasive arguments, etc) presented to you by others in the group.
                                      1. This form of influence results in private acceptance of the majority view.
                                        1. Private acceptance or internalisation of views results in a person repeating that view to others.
                                          1. This does not happen with public compliance in normative influence.
                                        2. Informational social influence is more likely to cause conformity in more ambiguous situations, such as the autokinetic effect. In situations where there is less or little uncertainty, normative social influence is more likely to produce conformity.
                                          1. The reason that informational social influence occurs where uncertainty is high is that people have a need to be sure, or a desire to be right, as often as possible.
                                          2. Research Study: Baron et al. (1996)
                                        3. Factors Affecting Conformity.
                                          1. Decreasing Conformity.
                                            1. Asch found that, generally, as group size increases, a larger incorrect majority results in higher levels of conformity.
                                              1. With small groups of two or three, where there are only one or two confederates giving the wrong answer, conformity drops to below 10% among naive participants.
                                              2. Asch found that not having to say the answer out loud allowed participants to express their private view without having to be concerned about what other members of the group might think. (Variation of his original study by asking participants to write their answer on a piece of paper, after hearing the wrong views of others in the group).
                                                1. Research Study: Crutchfield (1955)
                                                  1. Generally, decreases in conformity are found when information is good or of high quality, and when exposure of an individual's view to a group is reduced or kept private to the individual.
                                                  2. Increasing Conformity.
                                                    1. Stang (1973) found that, generally, the more attractive a group is to the participant, the greater will be conformity to the majority view.
                                                      1. The cohesiveness of a group has also been found to affect conformity.
                                                        1. Cohesiveness concerns the extent to which the individuals in a group like each other and prize being a member of the group.
                                                        2. Studies conducted in different cultures showed that conformity is higher in collectivist than in individualistic cultures. The main explanation for this is that collectivist cultures strive to achieve group harmony more than individualistic cultures do.
                                                        3. Personality and Conformity.
                                                          1. Crutchfield (1955) suggested that personality characteristics associated with high levels of conformity include low self-esteem, low intelligence, high levels of anxiety and high need for social approval.
                                                            1. The 'authoritarian personality' (Adorno et al. 1950) is also associated with high levels of conformity.
                                                              1. According to Adorno, the authoritarian personality is one in which a person values convention, rules and obeying those in authority. It is associated both with obedience to authority and with prejudice.
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