PSYC241 Lecture 8: Conformity

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PSYC241 – Conformity Oct. 16, 2012
Conformity: changing one’s behaviour or beliefs to accord with others
Pressure from other can be :
- Explicit or Implicit:
- explicit: “please be quiet”
- implicit: not direct, but implied
- Real or Imagined
- think of some of the advantages of conforming: for society (keeps people in line/less
chaotic), for the individual (following what others do is often reasonable, helps us fit in
smoothly)
- in many cases, conformity is really neither good nor bad. But can be one or the other.
- conformity gets more powerful as children grow
Types of Influence
-Normative: influence that produces conformity because a person fears the
negative consequences of deviating from others. The goal is to be accepted.
oEx. Peer pressure
-Informational: influence that produces conformity because a person believes that
others are correct in their judgments. The goal is to be right.
-Private Conformity: Change in beliefs that occur when a person privately
accepts the position taken by others
oGo along with what others are doing, and your beliefs/opinions change as
a result
-Public Conformity: Superficial change in overt behaviour without a
corresponding change of opinion, produced by real or imagined group pressure
oGo along with what others are doing, but your private opinions don’t
change
Classic Studies in Conformity
- Sherif “autokinetic effect”
- Would people still conform even when the group is almost certainly incorrect?
Most do. Start off defying the group but eventually give in. (Asch studies)
Comparison of The Sherif and Asch Studies
Sherif: informational influence, Private acceptance
Asch: normative influence, public conformity
- we tend to think we’re less compliant than the average  this is due to the actor-
observer idea
Group size
- it seems obvious that the larger the group, the greater the pressure to conform, and
this is, to some extent, true
- after you hit 3-4 people however, adding more people doesn’t increase conformity
Group Unanimity
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