Introduction of conformity
What is social influence? A general definition is that it involves efforts by one or more people to change the behavior, attitudes, or feelings of one or more others (Cialdini2006).
Conformity is a type of social influence in which individuals change their attitudes or behavior to adhere to existing social norms. Conformity, in other words, refers to pressures to behave in ways consistent with rules indicating how we should or ought to behave.
Obedience—social influence in which one person simply orders one or more others to do what they want.
Solomon E. Asch’s LINE OF LENGTH EXPERIMENTS
Must watch classical experiment Solomon Asch’s line judgment experiment.
Another funny experiment on conformity
Definition of conformity
Conformity can be defined as a change in a person’s behaviour or opinions as a result of real or imagined pressures from a person or group of people.’(Aronson 1976.’ 17)
Crutchfield (1955) defined Conformity as “yielding to group pressures”.
According to APA, Conformity is the adjustment of one’s opinions, judgments, or actions so that they become more consistent with (a) the opinions, judgments, or actions of other people or (b) the normative standards of a social group or situation.
Types of Conformity
Kelman (1958) there are three different types of conformity.
- Compliance (Group Acceptance)– ‘When an individual accepts influence because he hopes to achieve a favorable reaction from another person or group. He adopts the induced behavior because….he expects to gain specific rewards or approval and avoid specific punishment or disapproval by conformity’ (Kelman, 1958,). Conforming to the majority (publicly), in spite of not really agreeing with them (privately). This is seen in Asch’s line experiment. Compliance stops when there are no group pressures to conform, and is therefore a temporary behavior change. According to Cialdini (2008), following 6 basic principles used by professionals—and ourselves—for gaining compliance from others- Friendship/liking, Commitment/consistency, Scarcity, Reciprocity, Social validation: Authority
- Internalization (Genuine acceptance of group norms)- When an individual accepts influence because the content of the induced behavior – the ideas and actions of which it is composed – is intrinsically rewarding and also because it is congruent [consistent] with their value system’ (Kelman, 1958). Internalization always involves public and private conformity. A person publicly changes their behavior to fit in with the group, while also agreeing with them privately. Sherif (1935) Autokinetic Effect Experiment on a visual illusion
- Identification (Group membership) – ‘When an individual accepts influence because he wants to establish or maintain a satisfying self-defining relationship to another person or group’ (Kelman, 1958). Individuals conform to the expectations of a social role, e.g. nurses, police officers. It is similar to compliance as there does not have to be a change in private opinion. Example- Zimbardo’s Prison Study which found out whether the brutality reported among guards in American prisons was due to the sadistic personalities of the guards (i.e., dispositional) or had more to do with the prison environment (i.e., situational).
- Ingratiational- Man (1969) identified an additional type of conformity: This is when a person conforms to impress or gain favor/acceptance from other people. It is similar to normative influence, but is motivated by the need for social rewards rather than the threat of rejection.
Theories of conformity
The two process theory by Deutsch and Gerard: They claimed that conformity can depend on two things – Informational social Influence (ISI), and normative social influence (NSI). The theory tried to identify factors responsible for majority influence, however not so much for minority influence.
- Informational Social Influence (ISI): This focuses on our desire as human beings to be correct. In situations where we are unsure as to how to behave, we look to others to decide.
- This usually occurs when a person lacks knowledge and looks to the group for guidance.
- Or when a person is in an ambiguous (i.e. unclear) situation and socially compares their behavior with the group. E.g. Sherif’s Study.
- This type of conformity usually involves internalization – where a person accepts the views of the groups and adopts them as an individual.
- Normative Social Influence(NSI): This idea suggest that a person conforms because of their need to be accepted by, and to belong to the group. This may be because belonging to a group is often rewarding to the individual, and the group has the power to punish or even exclude those who do not fit in.
- Yielding to group pressure because a person wants to fit in with the group. E.g. Asch Line Study.
- Conforming because the person is scared of being rejected by the group.
- This type of conformity usually involves compliance – where a person publicly accepts the views of a group but privately rejects them.
Factors affecting Conformity
- Response to conformity pressures varies according to many different factors.
- While the most intelligent group members are less likely to conform, authoritarian personalities are more likely to do so:
- Where the membership of a group maintains both sexes, conformity levels are higher than in single-sex groups.
- Other variables that relate to increasing conformity are the size of majority in favour, the ambiguity of the situation, agreement among most other members and the open and decentralized nature of the group” communication systems.
Allen (1965) suggested that apart from the problem of private and public acceptance there are ten situational factors that influence an individual’s response to group conformity pressures some of them are:
- The level of commitment to the group
- The level of attractiveness of the group
- Status in the group
- The degree of interdependence within the group
Asch’s experiment inspired a lot of follow-up research by other experimenters. Factors found to increase conformity included the following:
- Attractiveness of other members in the group .
- Complexity or difficulty of the task – People were more likely to conform if the judgment was difficult.
- Group cohesiveness-groups that possess bonds linking them to one another and to the group as a whole tend to display more conformity than groups that do not have those bonds.
- Group size—larger groups are more likely to conform to similar behaviors and thoughts than smaller ones.
- Unanimity—individuals are more likely to conform to group decisions when the rest of the group’s response is unanimous.
- Status—individuals are more likely to conform with high-status groups.
- Culture—cultures that are collectivist exhibit a higher degree of conformity than individualistic cultures.
- Gender—women are more likely to conform than men in situations involving surveillance, but less likely when there is no surveillance. Societal norms establish gender differences that affect the ways in which men and women conform to social influence.
- Age—younger individuals are more likely to conform than older individuals, perhaps due to lack of experience and status.
- Importance of stimuli—individuals may conform less frequently when the task is considered important. This was suggested by a study where participants were told that their responses would be used in the design of aircraft safety signals, and conformity decreased.
- Minority influence—minority factions within larger groups tend to have influence on overall group decisions. This influence is primarily informational and depends on consistent adherence to a position, the degree of defection from the majority, and the status and self-confidence of the minority members.
Everyday examples of conformity
- Following Rules- We have to pay a fine, whenever we violate the rules and regulations. For example, Driving at the left side is the rule, which we have to follow by hook or crook, though sometimes, we do not find it relevant. But, we are driving on the left side because the whole society is doing so.
- Greetings- Whenever we meet the person, we usually greet him with the word Hello, or some other addresses. It is the social norm, which we follow because society wants us to follow them. In case we do not greet the person, we are assumed to be mannerless or rude.
- Queues–We always stand in lines, be at a bus stop or any other place, just because other people are doing so. If somehow we broke the queue due to any reason, we are often offended by the people around and may get punished by the laws.
- Following Fashion-The human population is a herd. They are following each other since the very start of life. What to wear and how to wear is the primary social norm to be followed in today’s era. We are thoughtlessly following our fashion icons or other people. If any of us try to wear which is odd than what society wears, we are considered to be abnormal.
- Changing Eating Habits- For instance, we become vegetarian by getting influenced by the other members of our group because we too think that becoming vegan is helpful to the society and we will not cause any harm to the animals around us.
- Education and Career-Most the students nowadays end up opting for science, though they dont have any interest in that subject. They choose it because of the peer pressure or the parents forcing them to do so, because it is believed that, student having a science stream is more intelligent than the student of the art or any other stream. It is the social norm, that straightway after completing senior secondary education, we have to go to university for higher education like others are doing.
- Marriage- Marriage is one of the major and compulsory conformity of society. If a person at 27 years is married, have children, home and a car is considered as a well organized and settled person in the community.
- Attending Parties- Whenever you go to a party, you try to imitate other dinners’ behavior the first time you ate at a French restaurant because you didn’t know which cutlery to use for each course.
- In Class– Majority Wins! is the well-said phrase in every area of life, be the elections or in the class. When we asked for an opinion in the class, we mostly agree with what the majority is saying. Though we might have any other idea, we agree with the majority because we don’t want to feel different from other students.
- Adopting Habits– Adopting habits may be good or bad are also part of the conformity. Youngster mostly gets involved in bad habits like drinking and smoking because their groupmates are doing the same. People join them because no one wants to be the one that is a goody two shoes and doesn’t join in.
References for Conformity
- American Psychological Association. APA concise dictionary of psychology. Washington, DC: American Psychological Association, 2009. Print.
- Crutchfield, R. (1955). Conformity and Character. American Psychologist, 10, 191-198
- Deutsch, M., & Gerard, H. B. (1955). A study of normative and informational social influences upon individual judgment. The journal of abnormal and social psychology, 51(3), 629.
- Jenness, A. (1932). The role of discussion in changing opinion regarding a matter of fact. The Journal of Abnormal and Social Psychology, 27 , 279-296.
- Kelman, H. C. (1958). Compliance, identification, and internalization: three processes of attitude change. Journal of Conflict Resolution, 2, 51–60.
- Mann, L (1969). Social Psychology. New York: Wiley.
- Sherif, M. (1935). A study of some social factors in perception. Archives of Psychology, 27(187).
- The History of Psychiatry & Homosexuality. (2012). Retrieved from http://www.aglp.org/gap/1_history.
- Prinz, J. J. (2007). The emotional construction of morals. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
- Stetka, B. (2015, February 12). Conformity Starts Young. Retrieved from http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/conformity-starts-young.
- Williams, R. (n.d.). Conformity. Retrieved from https://www3.nd.edu/~rwilliam/xsoc530/conformity.html.