Discuss the implications for social change of research into social influence. (12 marks)
It has been suggested that pressures to conform can prevent social change. Nemeth says that it is often easier to conform than not to, and one consequence of this is that people tend not to listen to non-conforming arguments for social change. Strong normative and informational social influences encourage people to comply with the majority opinion, and this serves to maintain the status quo.
Support for the role of conformity comes from Martin and Hewstone who point to the importance of non-conformity is likely to encourage alternative, innovative opinion, which is essential for social change.
The majority view in society is usually the powerful one and,…