Why people conform

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  • Created by: Georgia
  • Created on: 11-01-13 07:32
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Why people conform:
1. Normative social influence
2. Informational social influence
3. Social impact theory
Normative social influence:
This is the explanation for compliance, it suggests that the reason people
conform is to be liked by other people
It is hard to go against the majority which is shown in Asch's study as
people feel uncomfortable deviating from the majority point of view
Evaluation of normative social influence:
+VE ­ Garandeau and Cillessen (2006) have shown how this explanation of
conforming has examples of real life situations, for example bullying one
group of friends can be manipulated by a skilful bully to victimize one person
and the whole group feels pressured to join in otherwise they fear they
wont be liked by their group of friends.
Informational social influence:
This is the explanation for internalisation, it suggests that people
conform to be right and in the process change their views both publicly
and privately
Most likely to occur when:
o The situation is ambiguous ­ the right choice is not clear
o The situation is a crisis ­ a quick decision is needed
o We believe others to be experts ­ we believe others will know what
to do
Evaluation of informational social influence:
+VE ­ Wittenbrink and Henly (1996) participants were told the supposed
majority view on African Americans the view was negative, later reported
more negative views about a black target individual
+VE - Fein et al (2007) showed that participants involved in the US
presidential debate were easily affected by just the reactions of the other
participants towards a candidate's performance.
Social impact theory:
Latane (1981) came up with a theory to explain why people conform in some
situations but not in others, there are several principles that explain
this and they are;
o Number ­ The more people present the more influence they will have
on an individual, however this only works up to a certain point after
a while adding more people has no or little effect on whether
someone conforms or not
o Strength ­ The more important the people are to the individual the
more influence they will have on them
o Immediacy ­ each individual can influence others but the more people
present the less influence one individual will have over someone, e.g.
we are more likely to listen to a speaker when in a small group than
in a big group


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