Outline and Evaluate Explanations of Conformity

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Outline and Evaluate explanations of conformity

The Dual Process theory outlines two believed explanations of why humans conform, namely normative influence and Informational influence.

Normative influence is a form of social influence where a person changes their behaviour in order to fit in with a group. It usually involves compliance where the change in behaviour is public but not private due to the fact the person’s internal feeling or opinion is not altered, yet externally and publically it has. A fictitious example of this would be a person conforming by claiming to have the same music preferences as their group of friends, but privately they dislike their friend’s music taste. This opinion does not change privately despite the fact it appears to publically.

Informational influence is another form of social influence where people change their behaviour based upon the desire to be right. This also involves turning to others who are regarded as well informed in order to pick up on cues for socially acceptable behaviour. This usually involves internalisation, however unlike normative influence, the change in behaviour happens both privately and publically. This is the result of a person converting their existing view to new one in order to have the correct view and this view then becomes part of the individual’s belief system in the long term. An example of this would be if someone suggested that they support the same rugby team as a group of people that results in a long term loyalty to the team.
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These explanations of conformity were based on the findings of Asch’s experiment in 1951. For this reason the criticisms of Asch’s study present weaknesses of the above explanations of conformity. For instance, considering the study was carried out in 1951, the explanations that participants gave as to why they conformed could have been greatly affected by the society at the time. This idea is supported by a replication of Asch’s experiment carried out by Perrin and Spencer in 1981. Their results showed drastically different overall conformity rates to Asch, with a 0.25% as their overall conformity rate versus ...

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