Social Psychology (Social Influence)

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  • Created by: Jem Wash
  • Created on: 03-06-13 20:30



Conformity is a change in belief or behaviour in response to real or imagined social pressure.There are different types of conformity, for example compliance and internalisation.

Compliance - shallow conformity - changing your behaviour but not your belief. 

Internalisation - deep conformity - changing your behaviour and your belief.



{Outline two types of conformity (2+2 marks)} 

2 AO1 marks come from simply stating compliance and internalisation.

2 AO2 marks then come from explaining how compliance and internalisation differ. You should explain that compliance is basically going along with a group’s behaviour but not accepting it as your own belief or attitude, and that internalisation is both conforming to the behaviour and adopting it as your own belief or attitude.  



Explanations of Conformity 


{Normative Social Influence} 

Individuals tend to adopt the behaviours of the majority of a group because they do not want to be left out. Individuals do not believe the majority, they simply comply in order to be accepted. An example might be a person who openly agrees with the racist views of his or her new work colleagues, but is not himself racist and does not believe racism is right. 


{Informational Social Influence} 

When the situation is ambiguous, people have a tendency to conform to the majority because it is a source of information. In other words, if an individual is unsure as to the correct answer or behaviour then they tend to believe the majority opinion and behave accordingly. Individuals internalise the majority opinion because they want to be right. An example might be someone who cannot decide which way to vote in a general election who, after finding out how everyone else in their group is voting, starts to believe the opinion of the group and votes the same way. 



Sherif aimed to demonstrate that people conform to group norms when they are put in an ambiguous situation.


Sherif placed groups of three participants into a darkened room and projected a small stationary point of light onto a screen. In the autokinetic effect, a stationary dot of light in a darkened room appears to move slightly and Sherif asked his participants to estimate how far the point of light was moving.


Sherif found that when participants gave their


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