Conformity - majority influence

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  • Created on: 11-01-13 07:31
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Conformity to majority influence:
1. Types of Conformity
2. Research into majority influence - Asch's study
3. Variations in Asch's study
Types of Conformity:
Kelman (1958) proposed 3 types of conformity:
1. Compliance ­ going along with others to gain their approval or avoid
their disapproval (conforming public but not privately or permanently)
2. Identification ­ going along with others because you have accepted their
point of view but only because of a desire to be like them (conforming
publicly and privately but not permanently)
3. Internalisation ­ going along with others because you have accepted
their point of view because it is consistent with your own (conforming
publicly, privately and permanently)
Research into majority influence - Asch's study:
Asch (1956):
Asked 123 male American undergraduates to take part in a `vision test' all
but one of the participants in the room of the experiment were
confederates of the experimenter
The real purpose of the experiment was to see how the lone participant
reacted to the answers given by the confederates
Participants were asked to look at 3 different length lines they were then
asked to state which line was the same length as the standard line. Asch
was looking to see whether people would conform to the wrong choice with
the confederates or stick with which they thought was actually correct
The real participant always answered last or second last and
confederates were told to give the same incorrect answer 12 of the 18
On the 12 critical trials 36.8% of the responses given by participants were
incorrect, ¼ of the participants didn't conform on any of the trials
Asch interviewed some of his participants after the experiment to find out
why the conformed, there were 3 main responses:
o Distortion of perception ­ a small number of the participants actually
began to see the lines in the same way as the confederates (the
o Distortion of judgement ­ participants began to doubt their accuracy
so conformed to the majority
o Distortion of action ­ the majority of participant who conformed only
conformed publicly they still kept their same answer privately
Variations in Asch's study:
1. The difficulty of the task ­ in one variation Asch made the
differences between the line lengths much smaller so it was less
obvious which was the correct answer, this lead to conformity levels
2. The size of the majority ­ when the majority was only 1 or 2 people
conformity rates were very low, as soon as the majority became 3
the rates of conformity jumped to 30%, increasing the size of the
majority after this had a very minor difference in conformity rates
meaning the size of the majority is important up to a certain point

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The unanimity of the majority ­ When participant was given the
support of another participant or a confederate who chooses the
correct answer, the conformity rates dropped from 32% to 5.5%, if
the person giving support chose the answer different to the majority
and the participant it lead to conformity rates dropping from 32% to
9%. Asch concluded that it is the disturbance of the majority that
leads to the reduction in conformity rates.…read more


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