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Research into Conformity
Types of conformity:
1. What is compliance? Compliance is when someone conforms to the group, but there is no
change in personal beliefs.
2. What is identification? Identification is conforming both in public and in private because we
wish to identify with the group, but the conformity is not maintained after leaving the group.
3. What is internalization (conversion)? Internalization is when someone conforms to the
group because of a genuine change of opinion. New behaviours and attitudes become part
of one's value system and are not dependent on the presence of the group. This is the
strongest type of conformity.
Explanations of conformity:
1. What is Normative Social Influence? `The desire to be liked' (especially if the group is
important to us). We think others will approve and accept us.
2. What is Informational Social Influence? `The desire to be right'. We look to others who
we believe to be correct and use them as a reference point on how to behave. This is
particularly strong in a new group.
Asch's Line Experiment
1. What was the aim of Asch's experiment? To investigate if participants would conform to
majority social influence by giving incorrect answers in a situation when the right answers are
2. What was the procedure of this experiment? Asch conducted a lab experiment where he
had a series of participants seated at a table. There was only one real participant at a time
while the rest were confederates, the real participant would sit either last or second last.
The participants were shown a series of lines and were asked if the line on the left matched
any of the lines on the right (they were labelled A B and C). Participants always answered in
the same order. The confederates would say 12 wrong answers and 6 right answers.
3. What were the findings? 36.8% of the critical trials were conformed to by participants. 26%
of participants did not conform at all. 74% of participants conformed at least once. 5% of
participants conformed every time.
1. What is one conclusion drawn from this study? Asch demonstrated that the pressure to
conform to group majority is so strong that even in unambiguous situations participants
yielded to the unanimous majority.
2. Why might the sample in this study be criticised? All participants are male; females might
have a different level of conformity. All the participants were of a similar age, conformity
might be different with ages.
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How do findings provide evidence for normative and informational social influence? It
provides evidence for informational social influence because the participants want to be
seen as right; which is shown through them giving the wrong answers or the same answer as
everyone else. It also provides evidence for normative social influence because participants
want to fit in with their peers; they do not want to be seen as different.
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What was the procedure? Participants were asked to guess how far a light had moved in a
room that was totally dark. First they had to guess alone, then tell each other, then guess
2. What were the findings? Their 2nd guesses shifted closer to the norm even though they
were not asked to agree with the group figure.
3. What were the conclusions? We actively look to conform to the group and don't need to
be told to.…read more
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Wood et al (1994)
1. What was Wood's research in to minority influence? Wood et al. looked at a
meta-analysis of 97 studies of minority influence.
2. What were the findings? They found that minorities who were perceived as being
extremely consistent in their positions were particularly influential. These researchers also
established that majority groups tend to avoid aligning themselves with a deviant minority
because they do not want to be seen as deviant themselves.…read more