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Your need to: Define the terms conformity and group norm .

. Briefly outline early research into conformity. Describe and evaluate Asch s classic study of conformity in an unambiguous situation, including the implications of its historical context.

Give as many examples as you can of the way that people conform to the majority.

List the following, leaving two lines for a definition. Discuss what they might mean. Conformity Majority Influence Minority Influence Compliance Identification Internalisation Conversion Informational Influence Normative Influence

Your need to: Define the terms conformity and group norm . Briefly outline early research into conformity. Describe and evaluate Asch s classic study of conformity in an unambiguous situation, including the implications of its historical context.


Participants asked to estimate the number of beans in a jar are influenced by high or low answers given by confederates.

Sherif (1935) Findings: When stimulus is ambiguous, (add your definition) participants estimates of how far a point of light appears to move (autokinetic effect) is affected by group norms (add definition) Conclusions: Shows tendency to establish and conform to group norms.

2p / 20p 5p / 50p 2p / 1 5p / 25p 10p / 1

50p / 5 1 / 10 2 / 20 1 / 15 1.50 / 15


Majority influence (conformity)

Asch (1956)

To find out how people would behave on an unambiguous task, whether they would be influenced by the behaviour of others, or would stick to what they knew to be right.

123 male American undergraduates. Tested in a group with 6 confederates, each asked to state whether standard line same as other 3 lines. Confederates told to give same incorrect answer on 12 critical trials out of 18. True participant was always the last or last but one to answer.

On the critical trials, 36.8% of responses by true participants conformed to unanimous confederates. 25% of the participants never gave a wrong answer; 75% conformed at least once. Only 1% gave wrong answers when no confederates.

Shows conformity to group pressures even when answer is clear. Majority needs to be unanimous to be powerful. Normative rather than informational influence mainly responsible. Also evidence of independent behaviour (resisting group pressure) on two-thirds of the trials.

Controlled Lab experiment offers high internal validity and replicability explain. Performance on an insignificant task may not generalize to real life why not? Issues of population validity define. The study may be a child of its time (Perrin and Spencer, 1980), the era of McCarthyism explain. Ethical issues outline.

Social influence: how thoughts, feelings and behaviour of individuals are affected by actual, imagined or implied presence of others. Majority influence: behaviour of a group affects an individual. Social norms: vgenerally accepted ways of acting, thinking and feeling shared by most members of a social group.

Informational influence: the individual changes their beliefs based on the trusted opinions/behaviour of others leading to conversion. Normative influence: behaviour is changed so that the individual 'fits in' with the majority but beliefs are unchanged leading to compliance.

Schachter (1951) Findings: Participants less likely to elect to work with confederates who disagreed with views of how to treat a delinquent. Conclusions: Supports view that fear of rejection/ridicule is reason for conforming to group.

Burger and Cooper (1981): Participants high in personal control less conformist. Eagly and Carli (1981): Women more conformist than men.

Majority influence is a form of social influence that results from exposure to the majority position. It is the tendency for people to adopt the behaviour, attitudes and values of other members of a reference group.

You join a new club out of school. Most of the people there have smart phones and you don t you decide it s time you got yourself one. You notice that your friends have started revising for their AS exams you get your textbook out and have a look through it. Your friend buys a pair of bright red shoes, and you decide you ll get some bright yellow ones next time you re in town.

Describe and evaluate research into conformity. 12 marks.

The aim of Asch (1956) was to find out how people would behave when given an unambiguous task. Would they be influence by the behaviour of others, or would they stick firmly to what they knew to be right? How much conformity to majority influence would there be? The findings show a surprisingly strong tendency to conform to group pressures in a situation where the answer is clear. For Asch the important finding was that there was any conformity at all. However, Asch pointed out that there was clear evidence of resisting pressure to conform.

1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. 9. 10.

What question was Asch trying to answer? Who were his participants? When did he do it? What was the role of the confederates in his study? In what way was the stimulus used unambiguous? On what percentage of trials did conformity occur? How many participants conformed at least once? What was his conclusion? In what way does this study lack ecological validity? Why is it said to be a child of its time ?

Carry out conformity study on two people.