Explanations for conformity

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Normative social influence

Normative social influence is going along with the group because of the desire to be accepted. As humans are a social species, they have a fundamental need for social companionship and a fear of censure and rejection. An important condition for normative social influence to occur is that the individual must believe they are under surveillance by the group. When this is the case, people tend to conform to the majority without internalising with the members.


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Informational social influence

Informational social influence occurs when an individual accepts information from others as evidence about reality. This means that people conform because of the desire to be right. Initially, individuals may make objective tests against reality (i.e. check the facts), but if this is not possible they must rely on the opinions of others. Informational social influence is more likely to occur if the situation is classified as ambiguous or where others are experts. Because this involves changing both private and public attitudes and behaviour, this is an example of internalisation.


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