Social Psychology
Lesson 4
Why People conform
Normative social Influence
• Conformity to the majority even when you don’t
hold their point view is called COMPIANCE.
thoughts, feelings, attitudes, or behaviour, social
influence is the driving force behind compliance
• Therefore, going against majority isn’t easy as a
social species humans need to fit in to counter
feelings of rejection or fear.
• This is the basis for normative influence.
• Evaluation
• This explanation works but can be variable to
different circumstances.
• Graandeau + Cillessen 2006
• They looked at how groups with members
who had low interpersonal skills, could be
manipulated by a Bully and then provided
with a common goal of picking someone.
Acting against group pressure to fit in.
Informational Social Influence
The idea here is that the conformity is beyond the level of
social compliance, we can become “brainwashed” or from
free will choose to change our private and public views.
This is an example of INTERNALISATION.
This can be linked to influence of the minority and majority.
Informational social influence is more likely to happen when…
• The situation is ambiguous (uncertain)
• The situation is in crisis (emergency action)
• We believe others to be experts ( trusting to their
Wittenbrink + Henly (1996)
• Pp where exposed to beliefs that negative
comparisons about African Americans, they
were told this was the majority belief and
results showed that they showed more
negative beliefs about Black individuals.
• Fein (2007) [Showed faces of the audience]
• Supported the role of informational social
influence in political opinions in the U.S
• Results showed that looking at the ‘reactions
of fellow participants’ caused a large shift in
judgements over candidates.
Evolution of both approaches
Social Impact Theory
Latane 1981
• Explaining why people conform in the same situations
but not others.
• Number – The more ppl their/ more influence on one
individual. (more questions/more confussion)
• Strength – The more important the individual to you
the more influence they will have Perrin + Spencer
“probation officers”
• Immediacy – Each individual can influence others, the
more ppl present the less impact ONE individual will
Support for S.I.P
Sedikides and Jackson (1990)
High strength sources had more impact (resulting in more conformity) than low strength slow
This theory is called Dynamic Social Impact Theory.
1) Consolidation – Over time majority goes up and minority goes down so it
gets harder to go against the consensus result. And go against the majority.
2) Clustering – We are more influenced by our closet neighbours so clusters of
opinions with similar opinions can form groups. “Mean Girls” Social Politics.
3) Correlation – Opinions on other issues join over time so they agree or
understand on some level.
4) Continuing Diversity – Because of clustering minority can be shielding from
influence attempts of majority minority view can continue.

Week 19 Lesson 4 Explanations of why people Conform