Types of conformity

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Conformity: general definition

Conformity is a form of social influence that results from exposure to the majority position and leads to compliance with that position. It is a tendency for people to adopt the behaviour, attitudes and values of other members of a reference group. 

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Individuals may go along with the group in order to gain approval or avoid their disapproval. Whan exposed to the views or actions of the majority, individuals may engage in a process of social comparison, concentrating on what others say or do so that thay can adjust their own actions to fit in with them. Fitting in is seen as desirable so this is what motivates conformity. Compliance does not result in any change in the person's underlying attitude, only in the views and behaviours they express in public.

Compliance occurs when an individual accepts influence because they hope to achieve a favourable reaction from those arounf them. An attitude or behaviour is adopted not because of its content, but because of the rewards or approval associated with its adoption.

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Individuals may go along with the group because of an acceptance of their views. When exposed to the views of other mebers of a group, individuals are encouraged to engage in a validation process, examinig their own beliefs to see if they or the others are right. Close examination of the group's position may convince the individual that they are wrong and the group is right. This is particularly likely if the group is generally trustworthy in their views and the individual has tended to go along with them on previous occasions. This can lead to acceptance of the group's point of view both publicly and privately.

Internalisation occurs when an individual accepts influence because the content of the attitude or behaviour proposed is consistent with their own value system.

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In some instances, an individual might accept influence because they want to be associated with another person or group. By adopting the group's attitudes and behaviours, thay fell more a part of it. Identification has elements of obth copliance and internalisation, as the individual accepts the attitudes and behaviours they are adopting as right and true (internalisation), but the purpose of adopting them is to be accepted as a member of a group (compliance). For example, a child may start smoking, because 'that's what cool kids do' and they want to be seen as a 'cool kid'.

Identification is a from of influence where an individual adopts an attitude or behaviour because they want to be associated with a particular person or a group.

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