Types & Explanations of conformity

Types & Explanations of conformity


Types of conformity

Conformity is also known as majority influence. It occurs when a larger group of people influence a smaller group of people.

Types of conformity:

  • Complience: Change in behaviour to be more like a majority but does not change our private opinion on what we believe or how we act.
  • Internalisation: Change in bahaviour because we have changed our minds about something. This occurs when the majority have convinced us they were right so we adjust our behaviour.
  • Identification: Adjust our behaviour or beliefs in order to become more like an individual or group we admire and would like to be like.
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Key study into conformity - Asch

Investigated whether people would conform to a majority opinion, even when the opinion was obviously wrong. 7 people all sat looking at a display (6 confederates & 1 participant). They were given a task of saying out loud which one of the three lines, A, B, C was the same length as a target line. The experimentor worked around the table, with the participant being last but one to answer. Most of the time the confederates gave the correct answer, however some trials they gave wrong answers. Control condition - 2% wrong answers. Experimental condition - 36.8% wrong answers.

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Key study into conformity - Asch (A02)

Lab, high internal validity, control over extraneous variables, measuring what tended to measure.

Low ecological validity, lab, not all participants may have conformed the way they did in real-life situations, cannot be generalised.

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Explanations of conformity

Normative social influence
Occurs when an individual conforms because he or she wanted to be liked by other members of the group, and wants to avoid being rejected. Normative social influence is not likely to change a personal opinion. It affects public opinion. We may do this because we want to seem attractive or to protect ourselves.

Informational social influence
Accepting the majoritys point of view occurs when an individual conforms because of the superior knowledge or judgement of others. Tends to lead to a change in private opinion as well as public behaviour. Informational social influence is more likely when it is a crisis and so rapid action is required. Or when a situation is ambiguous so that the individual is not sure of the right answer.

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Explanations of conformity - supportive evidence (

Normative social influence
BOEN - judges opinions when private or present, more agreement when present, change their opinions, reliable and credible.

Informational social influence
PINCUS - similar to Asch's, musical notes, one confederate, 'musical expert', high levels, assumed superior knowledge, credible.

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