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Conformity is the tendency to change our behaviour and/or attitudes in response to the influence of others or social pressure. An individual will yield to the pressure of a group.

This influence could be one of two ways:

  • Majority influence: When a majority of people changes the beliefs and/or behaviour of a minority.
  • Minority influence: When a minority of people changes the beliefs and/or behaviour of a majority.

Conformity can be seen in every day situations from the group of people who conform to a dress code at work, to those who choose a huge hat for Ascot races; the social pressures and influences of others is clearly influential.

Jenness: Pt's were asked to estimate the number of beans in a jar. The individual estimates tended to converge to a group norm. In ambiguous situations, you are likely to look to others for guidance as to how to behave.

Norm - an unwritten rule about how to behave in a social group or situation that members accept as correct.


  • Compliance - Publicly acting in accordance with the wishes or actions of others while privately maintaining our own views eg. going along with others to gain their approval or avoid their disapproval.
  • Internalisation - Privately changing views permenantly eg. going along with others because you have accepted their point of view.


  • Aim: How people would behave when given an unambiguous task. Would they conform (yeild) to others views or stick to their own views which they know to be right.
  • Procedures: 123 American male undergraduates, 7 male students tested one at a time. They were shown a series of lines that were to be compared to comparison lines 18 times (12 critical trials). All but one of the participants were confederates who were instructed to give the same incorrect answer on 12 critical trials. The true participant was always the last to answer.
  • Findings: Participants conformed and said the same incorrect answer as the confederates on 36.8% of the trials, the correct answers were always obvious. 25% of the participants never gave a wrong answer, 75% conformed at least once.
  • Conclusions: People tend to conform to the majority behaviour even when the majority are obviously wrong. In unambiguous situations, there may be strong group pressure to conform. Different reasons for going along with the group normative social influence, to avoid rejection and informational social influence, doubt their own judgement.
  • The majority of participants who conformed said they continued privately to trust their own…


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