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What is conformity

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What is Conformity? Conformity, which falls under the category of Majority Influence, occurs when individuals are exposed to types of behaviour, attitudes and values which differ from their own, and then 'take on' these behaviours, attitudes etc. Another definition of conformity is yielding to real or imaginary group pressure. But why do people conform? The majority of the time, we are not physically forced to behave in a certain way or think in a certain way but yet people will conform to various ways of behaving, to what they believe and even allow themselves to change their personal beliefs. Throughout this essay, I am going to discuss the various studies on conformity and explanations of conformity. There are various types of conformity. Deutsch and Gerard (1955) proposed: > Normative - Occurs due to wanting to be liked by the group and not being rejected i.e. the desire to 'fit in'. > Informational - Occurs as a result of the individual's uncertainty in situations and relies on their perception of the majority group abilities i.e. status, knowledge etc. Kelman (1958) also suggested: > Compliance - Agreeing to do something or act in a particular way but without changing our 'private' thoughts that the behaviour we are performing is not what we would want to do normally i.e. ...read more.


All members of the group, except one, were confederates. The group was shown two pieces of card. One had a 'standard' line on it; the other card had three lines on it which were all different lengths. Each member of the group had to say aloud which line they believed to be the same length as the 'standard' line. The answer was obvious but the confederates all gave the wrong answer. The results of this study showed that approximately 75% of the participants conformed at least once, 5% of the participants conformed all the time, 24% never conformed, and the average rate of participants conforming was 37%. But why did participants give the wrong the answer? At the end of the experiment when the participants were debriefed, most participants said that they know they were giving the wrong answer, as they were giving it, but did not want to appear foolish by giving a different answer so they conformed. Asch's study involves factors of Normative Social Influence (i.e. the desire to be accepted in a group and not rejected.) The results of this study showed how much of an effect the majority can have on the minority, even when the answer is unambiguous (clear). ...read more.


> Artificial Setting - Wasn't a real prison but a basement in the university > Role playing - The 'guards' later admitted that they were influenced by the film 'Cool Hand Luke' Some of the criticisms that these studies have in common is ethics, but what are ethics? Eysenck (2005), pg 261 defines ethics by stating, "Ethics are a set of moral principles used to guide human behaviour." Some ethical guidelines to consider when planning research are:- > Deception - Sometimes it is impossible to avoid some deception as it may bias behaviour during the experiment, if so then it is essential to thoroughly debrief the participants afterwards and to fully explain the nature of the research. > Risk to Participants - Participants psychological, physical or emotional well-being should never be endangered > Invasion of Privacy - The data protection act must be adhered to. > Distress - Participants must never be upset, insulted, offended or angered. > Stress - Participants should not be led to believe they have harmed or upset someone else. These points are strongly emphasised in conformity studies. To conclude, conformity is not necessarily a bad thing i.e. when driving a car, it is important to conform to driving on the correct side of the road etc. Conformity is only a problem if their consequences lead to harm. ...read more.

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