Social Psychology: Social Influence Conformity - Majority Influence LON: Miss Norris To define conformity To understand different types of conformity
Conformity When we adjust our behaviour or opinions to match more closely to the behaviours/opinions of a majority of others. Often referred to as majority influence Eg Fashion Trends
Kelman (1958) Three types of conformity Compliance – going along with a behaviour without agreeing with it Internalisation – going along with a behaviour and believing it is correct Identification – compliance and internalisation
Asch (1956) Line Experiment http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yF6oiNU- POw&feature=related
Culture and historical validity of Asch’s study P’s all men, all American 1950’s – people were scared to be different (McCarthyism – being accused of being disloyal) Conformity may only be high when perceived costs of non conformity are high Perrin and Spencer (1980) conducted experiment on British students in 1970s and found low levels of conformity When conducted on probation participants and confederates were probation officers, conformity was high like in Asch
Criticisms of Asch’s research Possible that findings represent a specific culture at a specific time. USA 1950’s McCarthyism [anti communist – fear to be different] as in the 1950’s – people were scared to be different (McCarthyism – being accused of being disloyal) Example? Perrin and Spencer (1980) Perrin and Spencer (1980) conducted experiment s on British students in 1970s and found low levels of conformity. They tried and repeated Asch’s research Asch in the UK late 70’s using science and engineering students. Initial study 1 confederate out of 396 pp mostly showing conformity. Later study was repeated using officers and young offenders, found similar rates to Asch.
Conclusions Stable or unpredictable ‘The Asch Effect’ Lalancette and Standing – modified method made stimuli more ambiguous Found no conformity Asch effect is unpredictable phenomenom? Conformity or independence? Only 1/3 of trials produced conformity. Asch – humans are not conformist but show independent behaviour
Further research Nicholson et al (1985) Found similar results to Asch, UK students claimed that the differences with Perrin & Spencer due to national cohesion arising from the Falklands War.
Further Research Using a modified method with increased ambiguity and found no conformity was observed. SHOWING -> the ‘Asch Effect’ appeared to be unpredictable phenomena rather than stable. Interesting that we focus on the 1/3 of pp who conformed and not the 2/3’a of pp who didn’t conform. Asch himself admitted the study’s showed strong tendency's towards independence.
Validity We could argue, we might expect conformity rate to drop in an important task. The fact you have to answer out loud can add pressures Example: Williams & Sogan (1985) tested people in the same sports clubs and found higher rates of conformity.
Ethics How does Asch’s study fit in with ethical guidelines….. No informed consent, No right to withdrawal, Elements of deception. They where offered a de-brief and to withdraw their data.
Applications Tanford and Penrod (1986) Examining Juries – found that 95% of cases that he first vote of the jury determined the final decision. SHOWNG -> Conformity pressure can be a major issue in jury decision making.
Is conformity culture specific? Smith & Bond (1998) Meta – Analysis 1952 – 1994 = 133 cases in 17 countries. Classified as collectivist countries (Japan) or individualist. Results showed higher levels of conformity in collectivist cultures. Levels of conformity had fallen in the US since Asch’s 1950’s study. But was higher with levels of larger majorities, a larger group of females, and a more vague stimulus.
Limitations of conformity being cultural specific How do we define culture? What about the differences within cultures? There are viewpoints from within individualist and collectivist cultures and to be inter- cultural/cross-cultural differences may be over simplistic. Materials used, shows the differences in values of tools used in study's which may be specific cultures.
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