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CONFORMITY
Involves a change of behaviour or opinion in order to fit in with a group.
This may be a membership group (family or peers), or it may be a reference
group (pop or sports stars). This group can be either a majority or a minority
group.
According to Kelman (1958), there are three types of conformity:
COMPLIANCE ­ Going along with the group without a change in personal
opinion. It lasts only s long as the group pressure lasts, and we can go along
with the group whilst still disagreeing with it.
IDENTIFICATION ­ Behaviour is changed because we want to be like the
influencing group. It lasts as long as the group we want to be a part of
remains attractive to us, therefore the change in behaviour can be temporary.
INTERNALISATION ­ Group opinion and behaviour is accepted as part of
who we are. It can occur without any particular conscience effort. Because the
individual changes both their public and private view, it is the most permanent
form of conformity.…read more

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WHY PEOPLE CONFORM
Two main processes have been identified in causing people to conform:
NORMATIVE SOCIAL INFLUENCE ­ This type of influence often comes from
peer pressure. Reasons include; fear of rejection, wanting approval, simply to be
identified as part of a group and to show loyalty. Sometimes we want to be like or
accepted by a group, or want to avoid embarrassment. In this case we go along
with the majority because we don't want to be different.
SUPPORT: Sherif (1935) found that people gather as much information as
possible before making a decision because they want to be correct.
INFORMTIONAL SOCIAL INFLUENCE ­ This type of influence is concerned
with the fear of looking unintelligent and believing others know better, especially if
the task is difficult or unfamiliar. Where there is no obvious answer to a problem
we often turn to others for information. The more uncertain people are, the more
likely people are to conform.
SUPPORT: Asch (1951) found that people conformed to line judgments even
though they knew the answer given by the rest of the group was wrong. They
wanted to be liked or accepted by the group.…read more

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THE LINE STUDY ­ ASCH (1951)
He investigated whether majority group pressure is strong enough to cause
individuals to answer questions wrongly when to correct answer is obvious.
HOW DID THEY DO IT?
Participants had to say which of the three lines was the same size as the `test'
line. Participants were sixth in line to answer in the group of seven. All the other
`participants' were accomplishes of Asch, instructed to give the wrong answer.
WHAT DID THEY FIND?
32% of participants conformed to the wrong (majority) decision.
74% of participants conformed at least once.
26% of participants never conformed.
EVALUATION
Conformity was a stronger social norm in the 1950's.
There were ethical issues such as deceiving the participant and making them
feel anxious.
There was a correct answer, therefore it could be accurately measured.…read more

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ZIMBARDO'S PRISON SIMULATION EXPERIMENT (1971)
This experiment was designed to show conformity to social roles, this is a an
example of normative influence. Volunteers were given authority and asked to
act as guards over other volunteers who were prisoners.
AIM ­ to see the psychological effects of making 'normal', 'good' people into
prisoners or guards.
VOLUNTEERS ­ 24 middle class, male college students, mentally sound in
tests and no criminal records, were paid $15 per day and divided into prisoners
or guards by the flip of a coin.
PROCEDURE ­ Prisoners were arrested at their homes at the start of the study,
blindfolded and taken to Stanford University Psychology Department basement,
which had been converted into a realistic prison! From then on the volunteers
were treated as prisoners by the other volunteers who were guards.
END OF THE STUDY ­ The study was stopped after six days because the
guards became sadistic and the prisoners became extremely stressed.…read more

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