Psychology Social Conformity: Factors affecting Conformity

revision forAS level social conformity- loocing at what factors affect conformity.

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Size of the Majority

Several variations of ASch's original experiment have been completed. In these the size of the group has been manipulated, i.e. the amount of confederates is varied and the effect on levels on conformity is measured.

Conformity is low with one confederate, 3%. With three confederates the onformity has been found to be 33%. Thisis similar to Asch's findings of 37%.

Then there is a ceiling effect i.e. with further confederates, the same conformity is seen. Multiple replications show that conformity is at its maximum with a 3-5 person majority (in some casees too many confederates, e.g. 15, make the person suspicious, and this lowers conformity rates. 

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When Perrin and Spencer replicated Asch's study in 1981 using male students just as Asch had, there was only one instance of conformity in the 396 trials. 

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Time 2

Asch's studies were conducted in the 1950s America, at a time known as the 'McCarthyist' era when Senator McCarthy had openly suggested that people who appeared 'different' would be seen as distrustful, radical and maybe even communist. As a result the suggestion is that people would have conformed a lot more at ths time than they would nowadays, therefore there is an issue with historical validity. 

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Place and Culture

Differences between individualist and collectivist cultures can explain differing levels of conformity across countries. Collectivist cultures are more independent and emphasise group cohesion -they conform to protect this and thus conform more than individualist cultures. The Smith and Bond study supports this suggestion as it found conformity in individualist countries to be 25%. On average, compared with 37% on average in collectivist countries.

Smith and Bond, 1993, undertook a meta-analysis of conformity studies across many places. They foud conformity was highest in fiji at 58% and lowest in Blegium at 14%. 

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Modern Technology

The upsurge in emerging technologies has hd a strong effect on how people can exert the social influence of conformity. It has meant that minority groups get heard more easily but psychologists have assessed whether or not social influence is as strong as across the medium of the internet.

Cinerella and Green, 2005, found that conformity is generally lower when we can't see the people exerting the social influence, i.e. if communicating over facebook or other social inetworking sites. 

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