• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

Conformity - psychologists view

Extracts from this document...


Conformity Psychologists have long been interested in the area of social psychology that shows the extent of human conformity, proving that we are not designed as solitary creatures but our very own characters are determined by our social influences. Conformity influences social norms and helps guide individuals to function in an acceptable society. Many factors influence this vision of group phenomenon, group size, public opinion, cohesion, status and public opinion all help determine the level of conformity from a individual towards social norms. We are a tribal species and need to be accepted on some basic level to progress in life both Zimbardo & Leippe (1991) defined, "... a change in belief or behaviour in response to real or imagined group pressure" (Gross 2005 p442), many other luminaries in the world of social psychology support this theory of "yielding to group pressures" (Crutchfield 1948 p506). Aronson concurs with both his fellow psychologists' opinion by saying: "Conformity can be defined as a change in a person's behaviour or opinions as a result of real or imagined pressure from a person or a group of people" (Aronson 2008 p234) Agreeing with the theme of a tribal human society Ridley writes: "... one way to understand ritual is as a means of reinforcing cultural conformity in a species dominated by groupishness and competition between groups. Humankind, I suggest, has always fragmented into hostile and competitive tribes, and those that found a way of drumming cultural conformity into skulls of their members tended to do better than those that did not." ...read more.


In a total of 12 trials, on 11 occasions the na�ve individual concurs with the rest of the group. Asch unearthed that 32 per cent was the overall figure of na�ve participants who agreed with the incorrect minority answer. When questioned, the na�ve individuals said they wanted to be liked by everyone and not outcast, not to upset the experimenter or appear different to the rest of the group, some even believed there eyesight genuinely got worse during the experiment. Asch had his critics: "These theories have no basis in fact; any facts about the mind used in their support would have necessitated the use of such theories. In effect, the psychological world so dear to the heart of many social psychologists is a social construction, and the findings used to justify statements about this world are only valid insofar as one remains within the theoretical (and metatheoretical) paradigms of the field. Research findings don't have any meaning until they are interpreted, and these interpretations are not demanded by the findings themselves. They result from a process of negotiating meaning within the community." (Gergen 1999 p123) According to Leyens & Cornielle (1999), the study took a more individualistic approach, and focused purely on the naive participant's independence, rather than the group's independence. Fiske (2004) agrees, Asch's research is "stripped down" social influence, without the everyday interactionist within a group environment. ...read more.


Individualist cultures correspond to defined personal choices and achievements. In hindsight collectivist cultures is defined by collective groups, such as religion, family etc. There is clear indication of a variation in all psychological studies, this could be due to the country, or area the individual, or groups of people originate from. This could influence the results of tests, but also could influence the person who is conducting the test on how it is formed, as some studies have shown. All experiments show there is a element of conformism, where swayed by the majority or the minority, different tests and assessments garner varying results. Cultural origin, impacts upon the psychological tests, and have been highlighted by several of the psychologist's experimental assessments including Asch, Spencer & Perrin, and also Bond & Smith. Given the modern times differing faculties to interact with each other, like the internet, mobile phone, gaming, there is a huge variation in ways to conform, and the more traditional approaches do not necessarily correspond to the world in the 21st century. An important social reformer and philosopher commented on conformity and summons up how fickle we the human animal can be: "Our wretched species is so made that those who walk on the well-trodden path always throw stones at those who are showing a new road" (Voltaire 2008 p216) Where are all the modern day social reformers, psychologists and philosophers today, can they conform to a globalised society. ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our AS and A Level Social Psychology section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related AS and A Level Social Psychology essays

  1. Marked by a teacher

    Psychology Coursework - Conformity

    4 star(s)

    Relationship to hypothesis By referring to the graph you can see that males conform slightly more than what females do. That would relate to the alternative hypothesis. However, the levels in conformity are very small, which could obviously be to do with chance factors.

  2. Peer reviewed

    Describe and Evaluate Studies on Conformity. (Key study Solomon Asch)

    5 star(s)

    Asch did his research, it was in the McCarthyism era of America, which was a very conformist time in America and being different was certainly not desirable. This may have affected Asch's experiment. So, during the Seventies, Perrin and Spencer (1980,1981)

  1. The aim of this experiment is to find out if people will conform without ...

    which was carried out some time ago, shows a number of people willing to conform with others. Both these experiments by Crutchfield and Asch show that people will go with a group norm and conform to other people who they might necessarily not even know.

  2. Psychology Questions Ansewered

    We have learnt from it that memory is not totally reliable, despite seeming so. Deregowski's study dealt with perception. Every human being perceives information. The important question is, do we perceive information in the same way? The answer from the Deregowski study is an emphatic no!

  1. The experiment conducted tested the theory of conformity under the influence of group pressure.

    This pressure to act like other people, sometimes despite our true feelings and desires, is a common everyday occurrence. This is due to the implied and spoken rules of the situation. These norms tell us what we should or ought to be thinking, feeling, or doing if we want to fit in with a particular group.

  2. Why are health psychologists interested in human sexual behaviour and how have they attempted ...

    and abnormal (unhealthy) sexual activity. This centred on the idea that sexual behaviour is actually an inherent trait rather than the aberrant behaviour suggestion that preceded the 19th century. Moreover, this new approach produced sexual types, such as 'homosexual' 'sadist' 'transvestite' 'masochist' and so on.

  1. Describe what psychologists know about leadership.

    Fiedler defined the work situation using three variables: leader-member relations, which refer to the quality of the interaction between leader and follower; task structure, which is an assessment of how well elements of task are structured; and position power, which is the leader's authority to reward or punish followers.

  2. Discuss research into conformity - notes on Jenness, Asch , Perrin and Spencer.

    Overall, the conformity rate was 37%. 7. On average participants conformed in 1/3 of trials and 5% of participants conformed on every trial and 25% of participants gave correct answer on every trial. Ash asked participants why they conformed.

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work