Explanations of why people conform

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Normative Social Influence

  • Adopting beliefs as your own is called compliance even if they are not consistent with your own views
  • Exerting pressure on people to conform by making it difficult to deviate from the majority
  • As shown in Aschs study it is difficult to deviate from the group majority as it makes people feel uncomfortable
  • normative social influence comes from people wanting to be socially accepted


  • Bullying
  • Studies showing that people with not many friends may be manipulated by a skilful bully so that many people share a same goal, creating all members in this group to comply
  • Normative influence and smoking
  • Marketing campaigns shwoing what is normative in a particular group have been sucessful in reducing things such as smoking and alcohol abuse
  • norms bring about conformity
  • strong correlation between normative beliefs and behaviours
  • in a campaign aimed at 12-17 year olds in seven counties in montana, only 10% of non smokers took up smoking after hearing a message that people did not smoke. Where the message did not run, 17% took up smoking.
  • Normative influence and conservation behaviour
  • Using it in positive ways has been shown by hotels persuading hotel guests to reuse towels rather than having fresh ones everyday


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