Conformity (Majority influence) Mind Map

Revision for Conformity for AS level Psychology, under social influence.

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  • Created by: Sky
  • Created on: 06-12-12 18:55
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  • Conformity (Majority influence)
    • Definition: Yielding to group pressure. Occurs when an individual's behavior and/or beliefs are influenced by a larger group of people.
      • Can be classed as a negative thing as it seems to take away independence and can have harmful consequences.
      • Can be a positive thing as much human activity is socially based so groups can form and operate efficiently.
    • Three types of Conformity
      • Compliance: Publically not privately conforming. Going along with the majority influence to gain acceptance or avoid disapproval. Desire to fit in. Is only exhibited in the presence of the group.
      • Identification: Public and private acceptance of majority influence in order to gain group acceptance. Generally temporary, only lasting until leaving the group.
      • Internalisation:  Publically and privately accepting the majority influence. This is when truly adopting the beliefs system.
    • Case studies
      • Arthur Jenness (1932): Participants individually estimated the amount of sweets inside a clear container. They then discussed their answers with a group of people. Individuals then made a second estimation. On the second estimate most participants changed their answer closer to the group estimate.
      • Sherif (1935): Small spot of light projected onto a screen in a dark room appearing to move (though its not). Participants individually estimated how much it moved. The participants were then put into groups of 3 where 2 people had similar answers and one person had a very different answer. They discussed their answers then made an individual guess. The person with the most difference conformed to be nearer to the other 2.
      • Solomon Asch (1955): 123 american males took part. They were all shown a card with a line on it and then a card with 3 different lines. 7 confederates and 1 participant (in that order) had to choose which line was closest to the line on the first card. The confederates all deliberately chose an obviously wrong answer, all choosing the same one. Out of 12 trials 32% of participants said the same answer as the confederates on at least one trial.
        • Bond and Smith (1996): Did the same experiment as Asch with 17 different nations. Independent cultures tended to show lower rates of conformity.
    • Explanations of conformity
      • Normative social influence: A motivational force to be liked and accepted into a group.
      • Informational social influence: A motivational force to look to others for guidance in order to be correct.
    • Key terms
      • Cognitive dissonance: The unpleasant feeling of anxiety created by holding two contradictory ideas at the same time.
    • Evaluation of Conformity
      • Informational social influence and normative social influence and cognitive dissonance can be used to explain and understand real-life examples of conformity, giving support to them as explanations.
      • Not always possible to identify a single explanation for a given example. More than one explanation may be relevant.
      • Normative social influence can be used to explain the degree of positive and negative attitudes to groups. Related to how socially acceptable certain groups are
      • Use of conforming behaviour to reduce cognitive dissonance as healthy. Reduces stress levels.
      • Conformity can have negative connotations. Such as inner-group violence created by normative social influence.



A very useful summary of explanations and evaluations which relate to conformity, thanks Sky!

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