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This assignment focuses upon conformity and what it means to us

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Michelle Jones, November 2002. Conformity. This assignment focuses upon conformity and what it means to us. Conformity is defined by Zimbardo (1992) as "A tendency for people to adopt behaviour, values and attitudes of other members of a reference group". Why people conform is a topic of much debate. People don't always conform for the same reason's, in 1958 Kelman identified three main forms of conformity, each of which could produce conforming behaviour but in different ways. The first of these and the most superficial is Compliance: Going along with the majority in order to avoid rejection or in order to gain rewards such as social acceptance or approval. ...read more.


The third form of conformity which Kelman identified was that of Internalisation: This form of conformity comes from the persons own value system, their way of understanding the world and morality in both small and large matters. It is about doing what we believe in. With this type of conformity, someone may accept another person's influence and conform to their demands or expectations, not because that person is anyone special but because they wholeheartedly agree with the principles involved. With this kind of conformity, the conforming behaviour is likely to last very much longer than the actual situation requires because the person has "adopted" it for their own and it has become part of their internal value system. ...read more.


and his "fishing reel" experiment, Sherif (1936) and the "Autokinetic effect" experiment involving the various moving lights, Asch and his "perception study" and Perrin and Spencer (1980) with the updated "perception study". Triplett set up one of the first experimental studies of social influence. In studies by Sherif (1936) he revealed a number of interesting findings about group norms. The first was that having the agreement of a majority was extremely influential in forming the norm. Also people who were unfamiliar with the task conformed quicker than those people who had previous experience of it, suggesting that being uncertain about the correct answer encourages conforming to other peoples views. The various studies of conformity reveal that situational factors have more influence over our behaviour than the majority of us actually realise. We tend to underestimate situational forces on our behaviour. ...read more.

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