Psychology U2

Conformity and Majority Influence

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  • Created by: Jodie
  • Created on: 29-03-11 21:10

Conformity and Majority Influence


the influence a group has over an individuals behaviour/attitudes due to real or imaginary group pressure. it is the MAJORITY INFLUENCE.

there are three types of conformity;

COMPLIANCE: going along with others to gain approval or avoid disapproval. publically go along but have private disagreements upon the topic

INTERNALISATION: going along with others as we've accepted their view as it is consistent with our own both privately and publically.

IDENTIFICATION: has elements of both. accept others view as we see it as right and true but only to be accepted. this may change if the group changes.


SHERIF: stationary white dot, estimate how far it had moved. pp's estimates got closer together when in groups and a group norm emerged. ASCH said the norm occured because some were unsure of the answer so used others to guide them.

ASCH: his aim; to what extent people will conform to a majority opinion even when it appears obviously incorrect.

Procedure: 123 american undergraduate males. shown standard line then comparison lines. "which of the comparison lines are the same as the standard?"... all but one was a confederate (fake pp informed how to act before study). pp's answered last or second to last. confederate gave same incorrect answer on 12 of 18 trials (critical).

Findings: 32% conformed. 25% never conformed. 75% conformed at least once. less that 1% made an error in a control.

Conclusions: people tend to conform to majority behaviour even when the majority are obv' wrong. majority does not have the same impact on all individuals.


Real World App': juries suggest many jurors would not want to appear deviant.

Lab Exp': can be controlled and little efefct from confounding variable

Asch's Paradigm: adopted by others for studying conformity. however only one 'pp' can be tested. CRUTCHFIELD overcame this by using booths and found conformity to be lower.


Validity: too controlled - can't generalise. asking about lengths of lines is insignificant. shows conformity in special circumstances.

Era Dependant: child of it's time. McMCARTHYISM (at time people scared to speak out and be different). PERIN AND SPENCER; repeated with science students, only 1 in 396 trials conformed. done 30 years after Asch..proves era dependancy.

Cultural Differences: culturally biased as done in western cultures - individualistic. SMITH AND BOND; 133 students. 17 countries. from 1952 - 1994. collectivist = higher conformity. individualistic = lower and declined over time. ignores within differences and culturally biased from american study.

Conformity or Independance: only a third conformed showing independant behaviour.

INDIVIDUAL DIFFERENCES: EAGLY AND CARLY; metta analysis of 143 studies. women more conformist. could be socialisation (women used to doing as told). could be due to methodological issues (usually have male researchers and materials so biased). women may be less confident so conform. CRUTCHFIELD supports as found higher IQ in leadership lowers conformity.

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