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Conformity refers to the tendency for people to change their perceptions in ways that are consistent with group norms

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Introduction

Conformity by Bryony McIvor Conformity refers to the tendency for people to change their perceptions in ways that are consistent with group norms. People do not always make individual decisions, the majority of the time they look to others to guide their thoughts and actions. A universal law of social groups seems to that they form norms. A norm is a belief shared by the majority of members in a group. If members have different views they are likely to conform, and usually do so. Most people conform in order not to be rejected or because they feel the rest of the group know better than themselves. ...read more.

Middle

One of the earliest experiments in social psychology was a study of the formation of a social form, carried out by Mustaf Sherif in 1935. Mustaf's experiment involved the 'autokinetic effect' whereby a point of light in an otherwise totally dark environment will appear to move randomly. Subjects were invited to estimate the amount of 'movement' they observed. They made their estimates in groups where each member could hear the others' estimates. Ultimately, the group members' estimates converged on a middle-of-the-road 'group estimate'. This would appear to show an urge to conform. Crutchfield used military men attending a three day assessment program as subjects. Instead of actually confronting one another, the participants were in open cubicles in which there were five adjacent electrical panels. ...read more.

Conclusion

The lines were very easy to distinguish and if tested on their own observers made few if any errors. When they were tested in a group who gave their judgements publicly and all the rest of the group gave the wrong answer, three-quarters of the naive observers conformed at least once by responding incorrectly. Overall about one-third of the overall responses were conforming ones. This may have caused embarrassment and distress. From Asch's research a few questions arose:- 1. Does the amount of conformity rise if the majority goes on increasing? 2. Do they still conform if they have a supporter in the crowd? 3. Will the task difficulty affect the rate of conformity? Therefore, based on the above research this study aims to test whether people conform when they have to state their answer publicly. ...read more.

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