ConformityWhy we follow others.Elmakrufi.Blogspot.com
What is conformity?• Conformity--a change in behavior or belief as aresult of real or “imagined” group pressure.• It is not simply acting like others, but also beingeffected by how they act.• You “consciously” act differently from the wayyou would act alone.
Two Types of Conformity:• 1. Compliance - involves publicly actingin accord with social pressure whileprivately disagreeing.• Why do we do this?• We comply to receive a reward or to avoida punishment.
Types of Conformity contd.• 2. Acceptance - involves both acting andbelieving in accord with social pressure.• E.g., We may decide not to drink alcoholbecause our society adopts a strong moralview against drinking.
A. Classic Studies in Conformity:• 1. Sherif’s studies of Norm Formation• 2. Asch’s Studies of Group Pressure
1. Sherif’s Study: Part I• Sherif (1935, 1937) wanted to examine theformation of social norms.• Ss were seated in a dark room. Fifteen ft. infront of the S, a pinpoint of light appears.• At first, nothing happens, then it appears tomove erratically & disappears.• The S has to guess how far it moved.
The darkness of the room adds tothe Ss uncertainty.• The S makes a “guess.” (6 inches). Theexperimenter repeats the procedure & the Sguesses again.• With repetitions, the S reports estimates thattend to fall around an average (around 6-8inches).
Sherif’s Study: Part II• The next day, the S returns & is joined by twoothers (also previous Ss).• When light is presented, the other Ss give theirbest guesses from the day before. One says “1inch,” the other S says, “2 inches.”• Surprised the S, says, “6 inches.” What he saidbefore.• Does our subject’s original responses changewhen in the company of the other two people?
Sherif’s findings:• Sherif found that Columbia Universitystudents, did change their responses whenin the presence of others.• A group norm emerged!!!
The Norm was false!!!!• Why????• The light never moved!!! It a perceptual illusioncalled the: autokinetic phenomenon.• A solitary light that is stationary, will appear tomove, unless in the presence of another blinkinglight (reference).
Sherif’s followup:When tested a year later would theiranswers change?• No, they continued to report the groupconsensus!!!!
2. Asch’s group pressure study:• A true S was seated in a row among confederates.• The S was seated 6thin a row of 7 people.• The goal of the study was to examine perceptualjudgments & the participants were instructed topick which of 3 lines “matched” a standard line.The true S could see that one of the lines wasobviously a match, the others obviously wrong.
Asch studyOn first 2 trials, all people agree which line is rightsize.On 3rdtrial, all 5 people seated before the S, givean incorrect answer.What does our S (6thseat) say?75% of Ss in this experiment, conformed at leastonce with the group and picked the wrong sizeline.
Asch’s results:• On average across trials, 37% of time Ssconformed.
Do recent replications of Aschstudy hold up?• Mixed results, but many studies do not findthis conformity result.
B. Milgram Shock ExperimentMilgram advertised for participants to getpaid for completing Yale study on memory.• 2 people showed up to psychology lab.One was true S & the other a confederate.• A stern experimenter in a lab coat,explained that study was interested in theeffect of punishment on learning.
Milgram Study• The S was to play the role of “teacher,” theconfederate, the role of “learner.”• “Teacher” was to read word pairs to the“learner” who was in another room hookedup to shock leads.• With each missed word, the S was to shockthe “learner.”
Milgram study• The shock panel had switches ranging from15 to 450 volts in 15-volt increments.• Switches were labeled: “slight shock,”“very strong shock,” “danger: severeshock,” etc.How many Ss went on shocking the“learner” all the way?
Milgram’s Results:• 65-66% of Ss continued shocking “learner”to full capacity.
What factors influence obedience?• 1. Emotional distance of victim• 2. Closeness & legitimacy of the authority• 3. Institutional authority• 4. Liberating effects of group influence
When do people conform?• 1. Group size- 3-5 people will elicit moreconformity than 1 or 2 people.• Beyond 5 people- conformity drops off.
Milgram’s field study (1969):• Required 1,2,3,5,10, or 15 people to“pause” on a busy New York City sidewalk& look up.• % of people passing by who also looked upincreased as the number of people lookingup increased (from 1 to 5).
2. Unanimity• An individual who disagrees with a group,& punctures the group’s unanimity deflatesits social power.• Ss will voice their own views if just 1person has done so.
3. Cohesion• The greater the cohesiveness of the group, themore power it has over its members.• We are more easily swayed by a minority opinionfrom inside our group than from another group.• E.g., we often feel compelled to “act-like” thosewithin our ethnic group to avoid being mocked bymembers of our group (Contrada & others, 2000).
4. Status• Higher-status people tend to have moreinfluence over others.
5. Public response:• People conform more when they mustrespond publicly in front of others.
Why do we conform?• We conform to avoid rejection & to stay inothers’ good graces.• Normative influence- “When in Rome, doas the Romans would do.”
Who conforms?• Are some people more likely to conformthan others?• Who is more susceptible to conformity?
1. Personality-predisposes us to eitherbe conforming or non-conforming.2. Culture- Conformity is higher incountries high in collectivism & lower incountries high in individualism.
Resisting Social Pressure• 1. Reactance- people rebel when theirsense of freedom is threatened.• 2. Asserting Uniqueness- being differentto make a statement about oneself.