Ch. 8: Conformity - Gordon State College

Chapter 8
What is conformity?
Doing what someone else wants you to
do –
Whether or not you want to
Whether or not they are present
Whether or not they told you to
Whether or not they are a real person/group
What is conformity?
Do you “Press 1 now” when the voice on
the other end of the phone tells you to?
 Do you stop at stop signs?
 Do you hold for “important messages?”
What is conformity?
Both obedience and conformity are
generally good things.
We teach our children to be obedient
and to conform.
Failure to conform creates social strife
and violence.
What is conformity?
◦ A change in one’s behavior due to the real or
imagined influence of other people
What is conformity?
Americans are generally cultural nonconformists and consider conformity an
implied threat to freedom.
Don’t be a people pleaser.
Don’t be a crowd follower.
Think for yourself.
Stand up for what you believe.
Over my dead body
A hill on which to die
What is conformity?
Often, when you are refusing to conform
to one group, you are conforming to
Why do we conform?
It helps the flow of life.
We stand in line.
We wait our turn.
It helps things to stay organized.
It maintains fairness.
Why do we conform?
Informational social influence – Do I really
know what to do?
Social referencing
Bystander intervention
How to spell something
How to address someone
Which fork to use
Why do we conform?
Sherif and the autokinetic effect
◦ People reached a common estimate of the
apparent motion of a dot of light (public
◦ People kept the same estimate, even when
later doing the task alone (private acceptance)
Informational Social Influence
Baron,Vandello & Brunsman (1996)
◦ Task – picking a perpetrator from a lineup
◦ Only saw slides for ½ second
◦ On some trials confederates were used
◦ Half of the participants were told the results
would be used to select accurate eyewitnesses
(and received $20.00) (High importance)
◦ High importance of the task led to greater
conformity (51vs. 35%)
When informational conformity
Crisis – War of the Worlds – 1938
 Gustav Le Bon (1895) contagion
 Mass psychogenic illness
When informational conformity
Key Variables
◦ Ambiguity – no way to know
◦ Crisis – no time to think
◦ Experts – someone knows what to do
Normative Social Influence
Is based on the need to be accepted.
 Social norms are implicit rules for
acceptable behavior.
 Deviant group members are:
◦ Ridiculed
◦ Punished
◦ Rejected
Cohesive, Group-oriented Cultures
◦ A whole class or school will sometimes turn
against one student
◦ They will harass and bully the person.
◦ This may lead to the person committing
◦ Bikikomori are those who have withdrawn
from social interaction and spend all their
time at home
◦ Being deprived of human contact is stressful,
traumatic, and psychologically painful.
Asch Line-judging Experiments
Not explained by informational social
 Most people conformed on roughly onethird of the trials
 Seventy-six percent of participants
conformed at least once
 Fear of being a lone dissenter is strong.
Social Disapproval
Berns et al., 2005
 Used fMRI to measure changes in brain
 Error rate was 13.8% when people were
asked to match figures alone
◦ When answering alone or conforming to group
wrong answers, brain activity showed in the
posterior areas associated with vision and
◦ When going against the group the amygdala
(negative emotions) and right caudate nucleus
(social behavior) lit up.
The Importance of Accuracy
Baron,Vandello & Brunsman (1996)
◦ This again involves picking the perpetrator from
a lineup. However, here the task is made easy.
Participants viewed each slide for 5 seconds and
were shown each pair twice. Importance
manipulations were done as in the other study.
◦ In this study, however, high importance caused
the participants to conform less – not more.
◦ Why?
What happens when you resist?
Stage 1: target of most communication as
groups members try to bring you back in
 Stage 2: teasing comments at first, turns
 Stage 3: the group withdraws and
communication with the deviant drops
 Stage 4: rejection of the deviant
Factors in the Power of Normative
Social Influence
Strength: How important to you is the
 Immediacy: How close is the group in
space and time?
 Group size: Number of people.
Conformity increases as the number goes
from 1-5. After that, it makes little
 Allies: Having an ally (another deviant)
encourages non-conformity.