Conformity: Influencing Others
- Change in behaviour as result of the real or imagine influence of other people.
- Knowing why and when people are influenced by others will help us
understand whether a given act of conformity in their own life is wise or
- People probably conformed because they did not wish to be ridiculed or
punished for being different from everybody else; they chose to act the way the
group expected them to, so they wouldn’t be rejected or disapproved of by
Informational social influence
- conforming because we believe that other’s interpretation of an ambiguous
situation is more correct than our and will help us choose an appropriate course
- When we subsequently act like everyone else we are conforming, but not
because we are wear individuals with no self reliance. Instead, the influence of
other people leads us to conform because we see them as a course of
information to guide our behaviour.
- When we are facing an important decision, we are even more likely to rely on
other people for information and guidance.
- Conforming to other people’s behaviour out of a genuine belief that what they
are doing or saying is right.
- Conforming to other people’s behaviour publicly, without necessarily believing
in what they are doing or saying.
Three situations in which you are most likely to produce conformity because of
informational social influence:
1) When the situation is Ambiguous- Ex. When there’s a fire alarm in the building, and
you don’t know what to do, you most likely turn to the people around you to see if
the situation was an emergency. When you are unsure of the correct response, the
appropriate behaviour, or the right idea, you will be most open to influence from
others. In such situation, when ambiguity abounds, people are especially likely to
be influenced by the actions of those around them.
2) When the situation is a Crisis-when the situation is a crisis, we usually don’t have
time to stop and think about exactly which course of action we should take. We
tend to feel scared and panicky and so it is only natural for us to see how other
people are responding and to go about it likewise. Example of the alien drama play
on the radio. Many people didn’t know if it was real or not, so many became
panicky and saw that if other people were panicky, then they should be too. 3) When other people are Experts- Typically, the more expertise or knowledge a
person has, the more valuable he or she will be as a guide in an ambiguous or crisis
Mass psychogenic illness
- the occurrence of similar physical symptoms in a group of people for which
there is no known physical or medical cause.
- This is an extreme and misdirection informational social influence. When
informational conformity backfires.
- Example of the “toxic bus”
-relying on others to help us define what is happening can be an excellent idea, or it can be
a tragedy in the making. How do we know when other people are a good source of
information and when should we resist other people’s definition of a situation?
-decisions about whether to conform to informational influence, then, will affect not only
people’s behaviour but also their interpretation of reality. Thus it is important to consider
carefully whether other people’s reactions to a situation are any more legit than your own.
-We conform for the need of information, and also so we will be liked and accepted by
Normative social Influence
- the influence of other people that leads us to conform in order to be liked and
accepted by them; this type of conformity results in public compliance with but
not necessarily with private acceptance of the group’s beliefs and behaviours.
- We often conform to be accepted by the group to which we belong. Groups
have certain expectation about how the group members should behave and
member in good standing conform to these rules or social norms (the implicit
or explicit rules a group has for the acceptable behaviours, values and
beliefs of its members).
- the 3 line task
- had a line on one card, and three different length lines on another card, and you
had to figure out which line in the second card was the same length as the line
in the first card.
- Asch set the situation to see if people would coform even when the right answer
was clearly obvious. He has the first few participants who were in on the
scheme, to say that line 1 one was the correct answer (even though it was
clearly line 3).
- By the time it got to your turn, you start to wonder if you missed out on
something, and you study the lines to see. However because everyone had the
same answer, you also conform to it, even though you think otherwise.
- Reasons for conformity: 1) Maybe because you believed that you really did
have a hard time with this task, so you just figured that other people would have the correct answer 2)Normative pressures came into play. The fear of being the
lone dissenter was very strong, causing people to conform.
- Normative pressures usually result in public compliance without private
acceptance- that is, people who go along with the group even if they do not
believe in what they are doing or thinking is wrong.
When are people most likely to conform?
Social impact theory
- The theory that conforming to social influence depends on :
1) Strength of the group- how important is the group to you?
2) Its immediacy- how clos