What is independent behaviour?
Independent behaviour refers to the ability to resist pressures to conform to a majority, or resisting pressures to obey the orders given by an authority figure. It is not the same as anticonformity because anticonformists are, by actively acting in the opposite way to a majority, actually conforming themselves. A better example of independent behaviour would describe an individual who actively behaves in a way that they feel is right and that pleases them, even if their behaviour may sometimes be the same as the majority’s, or they may be a person that follows orders when they think they are justified but disobeys them when they feel that are unjustified.
Resisting pressures to conform
The variations Asch made to his original line paradigm revealed situations in which participants were less likely to conform and more likely to behave independently:
Size of the majority; group size was reduced to just two almost zero conformity. A majority of two confederates yielded a small degree of conformity, and groups with three or more confederates produced the highest rates of conformity. In smaller groups it is easier to behave independently.
Unanimity of the majority; Asch repeated initial experiment but this time he instructed one of the confederates to go against the majority and give the correct answer. Conformity rates dropped and the real participant was less likely to conform to the obviously incorrect answer. The presence of another group member going against the majority opinion lends social support, and other group members are less likely to feel alone and are more likely to behave independently and stick to their own opinion.
Nature of the task; task was made more difficult then conformity rates increased. This shows that when a task is easy and the correct answer is obvious, individuals are more likely to stick to their guns and behave independently.