Conformity to a majority influence

Types of conformity

Research into majority influence - Asch (1956) & Variations in this study.

HideShow resource information
  • Created by: Katherine
  • Created on: 01-04-10 17:28

Types of conformity

Compliance - When an individual accepts influence because they hope to achieve a favourable reaction from those around them. Attitude/behaviour is adopted because of rewards or approval associated with its adoption.

Internalisation - Individual accepts influence because content of the attitude/behaviour is consistent with their own value system.

Identification - an individual might accept influence because they want to establish a relationship with person/group BUT what they are accepting they feel is right and true. Contains both compliance + Internalisation.

1 of 14


What is compliance?

What is internalisation?

What is identification?

2 of 14

Asch (1956) Method & Purpose

Method - asked 123 male American undergraduates to take part in 'vision test'.

All but one of the participants were really confederates (colleagues of the experimenter).

Participants were asked to look at 3 different line lengths.

Then (after all the confederates had answered) the participants were asked which of the lines were the same as the 'standard' line.

Always a fairly obvious solution to this task.

On 12 of the 18 trials the confederates gave the same wrong choice.

Purpose - Asch was interested to see whether people would stick to what they believed to be right or cave into pressure of the majority and go along with their decision.

3 of 14


What did the students believe was the real study they were taking part in?

How many of the participants were real? How many confederates?

What were the participants asked to look at?

What question were they then asked?

There was always a _______________ _______________ solution to the task

What was the purpose of this study?

4 of 14


On the 12 critical trials 36.8% of the responses made by real particpants were incorrect (they conformed to incorrect response).

1/4 of participants never conformed on any trials.

People make mistakes only 1% of the time (so this cannot explain the level of conformity).

5 of 14


How many responses made by real participants were incorrect/ what percentage of people conformed?

What fraction of people never conformed on any trails?

What about mistakes? What percentage of people make them?

6 of 14

Why did people conform?

Asch interviewed participants after the study and found 3 reasons why people conformed:

1. Distortion of perception - Participants came to see the lines the same way as the majority.

2. Distortion of judgement - Participants felt doubt about accuracy of their judgement, so went along with the majority

3. Distortion of action (Majority) - Continued to privately trust their own perception and judgement but changed their public behaviour to avoid disapproval. (they complied)

7 of 14


How many reasons did Asch find for conformity?

What were these?

Describe each.

8 of 14

Variations in Aschs' study - Difficulty of task

Asch made differences between line length smaller.

The level of conformity increased.

Lucas et al (2006) - Self-efficacy. Participants who were confident in their own abilities (people with a high self-efficacy) remained more independent than low self-efficacy participants even under conditions of high task difficulty.

Situational difficulties (task difficulty) & individual differences (self-efficacy) are both important in determining conformity.

9 of 14


How did Asch make the task more difficult?

Did the level of conformity increase or decrease?

What did Lucas et al find?

What are the two factors both important in determining conformity?

10 of 14

Size of the majority

Very little conformity when majority consists of 1 or 2 people.

Under pressure from majority of 3 conformity responses raised to 30%.

Further increases in size did not increase levels of conformity any more.

Size of majority is important but only up to a point.

11 of 14


What did Asch find about conformity when there was just 1 or 2 other people?

What about 3?


What did Asch conclude?

12 of 14

Unanimity of the majority

In Aschs' original study all the confederates gave the sane wrong answer.

When real participant was given support of confederate or another real participant who gave right answer throughout- conformity dropped to 5.5%

If lone 'dissenter' gave answer different from majority and the right answer - conformity dropped to 9%.

Breaking the groups consensus was the major factor in conformity reduction.

13 of 14


What happened to the conformity percentage when the participant was given a confederate or another real participant consistently giving the right answer?

What happened when the other participant/confederate gave the wrong answer but an answer still different from the majority?

What was the conclusion of this research?

14 of 14


No comments have yet been made

Similar Psychology resources:

See all Psychology resources »See all Conformity resources »