Revision notes on Conformity

Some revision notes on various topics in conformity

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  • Created on: 08-11-11 18:58
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Sarah Douglas 12F
Conformity: doing what other people do because of the impact they have on you ­
because you care about what they will think of you i.e. conforming to fit in.
Types of conformity-
Internalisation: Conforming inwardly as well as an outward agreement where the view of
others becomes part of the person's own view because the person lacks information or they
agree with others ­ conversion.
Compliance: The person conforms publicly but privately disagrees with the views/requests
of others to avoid becoming ostracised by the group (so the person isn't left out).
Asch's Line Judgement Study:
Lab experiment so lacking mundane realism but extraneous variables controlled. All
participants were male, American college students so can't be generalised. Ethically some
participants experience stress/anxiety so must be debriefed.
1. Naive participant in a room with 7 confederates who agreed in advance their
responses to the line task.
2. Each person had to state which comparison line was most like the target line (the
answer was obvious). The real participant gave their answer last.
3. There were 18 trials in total; confederates gave wrong answer on 12 trials.
Results: On average, 32% of real participants went along with obvious incorrect answers.
NB/ in variations where difficulty of the task increased, conformity increased. When the
size of majority decreased, conformity decreased. When the participant had an accomplice,
conformity decreased.
Factors that affect conformity:
Culture: Collectivist countries show increased conformity levels than individualist
Historical context: At the time of Asch in America, participants want to be part of group
due to pervasive mood.
Gender: Women more compliant than men due to less confidence not being less
Size of majority: Conformity increases with majority of 3 but not past this level.
Unanimity of majority: When dissenter gave an answer different from the majority and
from true answer, conformity decreased.
Self efficacy: Higher self efficacy, less likely to conform.

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Sarah Douglas 12F
Explanations of conformity (Deutsch and Gerard)-
Informational Social Influence: where people look at the behaviour of others to get
information on how to act often leading to internalisation. E.g. Jenness gave Participant a
jar of beans and asked them the no. of beans individually then grouped participants to
guess no. of beans, then asked them again individually and they had changed their original
guesses to the group figure.…read more

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Sarah Douglas 12F
5. Learner learnt a list of paired associates and had to choose correct answers;
whenever the answer was wrong the teacher had to administer a shock which
increased with every wrong answer. (The teacher had to announce to shock level).
6. If the teacher became reluctant, the experimenter gave verbal prods such as "It is
essential that you continue with the experiment".…read more

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Sarah Douglas 12F
Agentic state: a state in which individuals give up their own responsibility, deferring to
those of higher status.
Diffusion of responsibility: moving from autonomous to agentic state and attribute
responsibility to the person in authority, mindlessly accepting orders from them and
merely doing what they're told e.g. in Milgram's study, participants were relieved when the
experimenter said "I am responsible".
Legitimate Authority: participants believing that the experimenter had power so they are
obliged to do what they say, e.g.…read more


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