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

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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. ISI is a cognitive process. An example of ISI is when in class, a person may not know the answer to a question so if most of the class agree on an answer, and they deem this as correct.

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Normative social influence (NSI) focuses on the normal behaviour for a social group. These norms regulate the behaviour of groups and individuals, as people prefer to gain social acceptance and approval rather than be rejected. This process is more emotional than cognitive. 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 ...

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