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Describe and evaluate the explanations of conformity. (12 marks)

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Introduction

Transfer-Encoding: chunked ´╗┐Describe and evaluate the explanations of conformity. (12 marks) Deutsch & Gerard (1955) developed a two-process theory which argued the main reasons why people conform. They based this around two ideals: informational social influence (ISI) which is the need to be right and normative social influence (NSI) which is the need to be liked. Informational social influence (ISI) suggests that individuals have a desire to be right in order to be accepted. Therefore when we are uncertain about which behaviour is correct or incorrect, we tend to follow the majority in order to be seen as right. ...read more.

Middle

It may occur most when with a group of friends, who we deem as important. An example of this is copying a group?s behaviour in order to fit in. There has been research to support the concept of ISI. Lucas et al. (2006) asked students to answer mathematical problems that varied in difficulty. He found that there was a greater conformity to incorrect answers when the problems were more difficult than easy. This proved true for those who deemed themselves as having poor mathematical skills. This study highlights that people conform in situations where they need to gain social acceptance by being correct, assuming the group view as right by seeing them as experts, which is fundamental in the informational social influence explanation. ...read more.

Conclusion

This undoubtedly shows that the desire to be liked differs from person to person, therefore suggesting that individual differences may occur in NSI as an explanation for conformity. Deutsch & Gerrard proposed that behaviour is either due to ISI or NSI. However, more often, both processes occur together. For instance, conformity is reduced when there is another disserting PP in the Asch experiment. The dissenter is able to reduce the power of NSI and ISI as they provide social support and provide an alternative source of information. This shows that we cannot be sure if ISI or NSI is at work in a given situation. This is especially common in laboratory studies, however even more true in real-life situations of conformity. This questions the integrity of ISI and NSI as two separate entities in explaining why people conform. ...read more.

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