Conformity and Why People Conform

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Types of Conformity and Explanations of Conformity

Types

Internalisation - When an individual confroms by behaving or agreeing with the majority becuase they have taken on their behaviour. Long lasting conformity

Compliance - When an individual conforms to the majority in public but privately disagrees with the majority opinion. Beliefs don't change and is temporary

Explanations

Normative Social Influence - Desire to be liked. When an individual conforms to fit in and not appear foolish or be left out. Leads to compliance

Informational Social Influcence - Desire to be right. When an individual conforms because they're unsure of th situation or answer and conform thinking majority knows correct behaviour. Leads to internalisation

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Asch - Line study

Aim: Investigate extent social pressure from a majority causes a person to conform when answer is clear

Procedure:

  • Laboratory Experiement in which 7 confederates and one participant had to complete line judgement task
  • Each person said aloud which line, A, B or C, was the same length as the target line.The answer was clear. Naive participant second to last
  • Confederates gave wrong answer 12/18 times

Findings: A third of particpants conformed to majority view and 75% conformed at least once

Conclusion: Interview after experiment showed that some Pps knew it was wrong answer but didn't want to appear peculiar (normative) and some said they doubted their own judgement and thought others knew best (informational). Evidence of normative and informational social evidence

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Evaluation of Asch

  • - One issue is study has sample bias which means low population validity
  • E - Only used male, American students of similar culture and age in study
  • C - Means has low population validity as results can only be applied to that limited target population
  • - One issue is research is old and may lack temporal validity
  • E - Asch conducted experiment in 1950s when conformity was the norm. Perrin and Spencer replicated experiment later and found very few Pps conformed meaning Asch's results only applied to that era
  • C - Results have low temporal validity and can't be applied to modern era
  • - Another issue is that there are ethical issues involved with Asch's study
  • E - Asch used deception as did not inform Pps of the aim of the study or about the nature of the other participants. This means they did not give informed consent
  • C - Although he needed to decieve Pps to get real reaction, it may not be replicable now so cant be checked for reliability
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Contradictory Evidence

Perrin and Spencer

  • Carried out replica of Asch's experiment but used engineering, maths and chemisty students
  • Only one out of the 396 trials did a particpant comform to give a wrong answer
  • Shows that Asch's experiment was only relevant to that era
  • Cultural change means that in modern era conformity is less valued. Although is possible those particular students were more confident

Smith and Bond

  • Conducted a meta analysis to investigate conformity in different cultures
  • In collectivist cultures conformity rate was 37%
  • In individualist cultures conformity rate was lower, 25%
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