Social influence Conformity

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Social influence

The definition: conformity/ majority influence refers to an individual or a small group of people that change their behaviour or attitudes to fit in with the attitudes or behaviour of alarmed group of people.

Kelman 1958 proposed two types of conformity.

Compliance: this is when individuals change or go along with others in order to gain approval or avoid disapproval.
Change is public but privately retain own view,
This tends to happen very quickly.

Internalisation: this is when change occurs because the individual accepts or agrees with the majority. Change is both public and private and this tends to happen over time particularly when an individual is given more information about a particular subject.

There are three studies on conformity.
1- Jennes jar experiment.
A lab experiment wherein the sample group were asked to guess the number of sweets in a jar. Thereafter, there was a group discussion and they participants were asked to second guess the number if sweets.
Findings showed that second estimate always changed and was more in line with the group estimate.
Conclusion. As this was an ambiguous situation, informational social influence can explain this change in estimate.
Simple task, lacks mundane realism.
Lab experiment so low in ecological validity, hard to generalise as its small scale.
Lab experiment is highly controlled so easily replicable, and so reliable.
Not representative of significant social influence.

2- sherif auto kinetic effect.
A lab experiment which used the auto kinetic effect wherein a dot of light appears to move in a dark room, but really it was still.
Individual estimates varied widely but when put into groups of three where one participants whose estimate was very different to that of the other two, the group converged to a common estimate and the individual whose estimate was very different, changed and was more in line with the group.

The conclusion is that when in an ambiguous situation, a person will always look to others for guidance; informational social influence.

Evaluation, lacks mundane realism, and there was no right answer so its difficult to measure the true extent of conformity.

3- Asch's line experiment,
Used a simple lab experiment of a line judgement task wherein participants were tested in groups of 7, 6 confederates and one participant. They were asked to identify one out of three lines which was the same length as that on another card. The answer was always obvious and the participant was always the last one to answer. 12/18 were critical trials wherein the confederates were asked t give the wrong answer.
Findings: 37% of incorrect responses were recorded amongst all trials. 5% conformed all the time and 75% conformed at least once.
Conclusion, people do feel the pressure to conform even when an answer is obvious, this is shown through distortion of judgement. where participants doubted the accuracy and so went to the majority view. however there are individual differences as 25% of participants resisted the pressure to conform. And also on…


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