Types of conformity



When someone asks us to do something we might comply with their request. We might agree to do someone a favour for example. 

Compliance could be viewed as a first step towards internalisation. 

However, we might agree in public but disagree in private.

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Sometimes we feel that a part of our identity is belonging to a group. 

We value that feeling and publicly respect and follow the attitudes and behaviour of the group.

We may still disagree with some aspects of the group behaviour in private.

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When someone truly takes on the beliefs and attitudes of a group, they internalise them and they become their own beliefs. 

They have effectively conformed.

They agree both pubicly and privately with the group.

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Informational social influence (ISI)

Wanting to be correct (do the right thing) in the prescence of others is a powerful influence. 

The need for certainty makes us seek information to reinforce our perception of a situation, so we look to see what other people are doing.

We then compare ourselves with others and internalise their beliefs as ours.

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Normative social influence (NSI)

In this influence people conform because they fear being isolated and want to be part of a group. 

Others are seen as having the power to approve or disapprove of us.

The conflict between our private beliefs and what we feel we have to say out loud leads to compliance but this could just be temporary while in the prescence of the group.

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Why we conform

Conformity serves a valuable social purpose.

It helps social interaction to happen smoothly and allows us to predict what other people will do.

In schools and prisons it allows a small minority of staff to manage a large majority of students and prisoners without problems as long as the students and prisoners conform to their social roles.

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