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To what extent are individual influenced by the majority and how can this be explained?

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Introduction

To what extent are individual influenced by the majority and how can this be explained? Conformity is the tendency to change ones beliefs or behaviours in ways that are consistent with group standards; the best way to do this is to conform to a majority view or influence. A forceful minority with a new idea or unique perspective can change the position of the majority. This is called a minority influence. Mass & Clark (1984) found that behavioural style of minority is important. A minority must be consistent and forceful. Deutch & Gerrard (1955) found that the normative influence involves our tendency to conform to the positive expectations of others. We conform because we wish to behave as others expect us to, as in gaming and expectance approval, these are all a variation of majority influence. Deutch & Gerrard (1955) explained that informative social influence stems from our tendency to employ other persons as a source of information. We conform because we use the actions of others, as guidance to understand the worlds around us to help behave approximately, this is a variation of minority influence. Compliance represents a more direct form of social influence. It occurs when individuals alter their behaviour in response to direct requests from others. Hindsight, conversion consists of changing our benefits and behaviours when in the presence of others, regardless if we want to or not. Social influence refers to the processes by which people are affected by real or imagined pressures from others. Conformity occurs when people are influenced to change their affect, behaviour, or cognitions to be more consistent with social (e.g., group) norms or perceived expectations. ...read more.

Middle

Informational influence is the degree that people are influenced because they accept the other subjects as sources of information about the word. Our tendency to conform based on informational influence depends on two aspects of the situation: how well informed we believe the group is and how confident we are in our own independent judgement. The more we trust the group's information and value their opinions in a situation, the more likely we are to go along with the group. Anything that uncrosses confidence in the correctness of the group should increase conformity, and conversely, anything that leads us to doubt the group's knowledge or trustworthiness should decrease conformity. Occasionally we feel it's more important to maintain other people's positive regard. This type of influence by normative reasons is called normative influence. Sometimes we conform to gain the approval of the group, in other times we do so to avoid disapproval. In growing up, people often learn that one way to get along with the group is to go along with group standards. The fear of being deviant is justified by the group 's response to deviance. When someone does not go along with a group, that person becomes the target of efforts to bring them in line, and ultimately risks rejection. Conformity to majority patterns is a basic aspect of social life. But our emphasis on the power of the majority should not blind us to the importance of minority influence. The important social movements of our times have all begun with small numbers of people who challenged the existing assumptions of the majority. The Civil rights, women's rights, and gay rights movements had their start with small numbers of people convinced that their positions were better in accord with moral facts of the matter than were in the views of the majority. ...read more.

Conclusion

First, a large request is made and then, when this one is refused, a smaller (more desired) request is made. And "that's not all" -- this method involves offering a little something extra before the target decides to accept or reject a request. Despite the success of these "developed" techniques, the most effective way to gain compliance is through rational persuasion and inspiration. Some situations move beyond requests for action and entail direct orders from one person to another. Surprisingly, a demand for behavior often results in obedience for many people, despite an authority figures lack of power to enforce an order. Research conducted by Stanley Milgram (1969) involved leading subjects to believe they were administering shock to a person who was making errors in a learning experiment. Results of this study revealed that 65% of the subjects were obedient with the experimenters request to provide a shock at a level that was extremely painful and dangerous to the learner. Factors that seemed to contribute to this outcome include the authority figure's gradual escalation of the scope of their orders and their visual cues of power (e.g. a white lab coat). Additionally, subjects often assumed that the experimenter, not themselves, would be responsible for their actions. Certain people tend to be more obedient than others. Individuals who have the tendency to adopt a submissive, uncritical attitude toward authority figures -- authoritarian submission (Adorno, 1950) tend to perform tasks when demanded. Also, people with an external locus of control (a sense that fate rules their life rather than their own actions) tend to be more obedient. However, despite the popular myth that women are more submissive, women and men are relatively equal in the degree to which they will obey demands (Eagly & Carli, 1981). ...read more.

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