Types and explanations of conformity


Types of conformity

Conformity is efined as yielding to group pressure. Conformity occurs when an individual's behaviour and/or beliefs are influenced by a larger group of people. Confomity is also known as majority influence

Kelman made reference to three types of conformity, which vary in the amnt to which they affect an individual's belief system:

  • Compliance- occurs when individuals adjust their behaviour and opinions to those of a group to be accepted and avid disaproval. Compliance therefore occurs due to a desire to fit in and involves public but not private acceptance of a group's behaviour and attitudes. It is a weak and temporary form of conformity
  • Identification- occurs when individuals adjust their behaviour and opinions to those of a group because memebership of that group is desirable. This is a stronger type of conformity, involving private as well as public acceptance, but is generally temporary and is not maintained when individuals leave the group
  • Internalisation- occurs when individuals genuinely adjust their behaviour and opinions to those of a group. If an individual is exposed to the belief system and they accept the beliefs it will lead to public and private acceptance of the group's behaviour. This conformity will not be dependent on the presence of the group or group membership for maintenance

Explanations for conformity

Informational social influence (ISI)

  • ISI is about information and a desire to be right
  • If someone else knows an answer that we do not, we may be more inclined to agree with them
  • ISI occurs in situations that are ambigious where it isn't clear what is right. It may happen when decisions have to be made quickly, and when one person or group is regarded as being more of an expert

Normative social influence (NSI)

  • NSI is about norms and a desire to behave like others and not look foolish
  • NSI concerns what is 'normal' or typical behaviour of groups and individuals
  • NSI occurs in unfamiliar situations with people we know, we look to others to see how we are meant to behave


+Research support

  • Lucas asked students to give answers to easy and more difficult maths problems
  • There was more conformity to incorrect answers when the problems were more difficult 
  • People conform in situations where they feel they don't know the answer

-Individual differences in ISI

  • Asch found that students were less conformist than other ppts
  • Perrin and spencer also found…


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