Conformity in Psychology: a Study Based on Solomon Asch's Paradigm

Topics: Social psychology, Conformity, Sociology Pages: 15 (5003 words) Published: January 13, 2013
Conformity In Psychology:

A Study Based On The Solomon Asch’ Paradigm

Understanding the reasons why we act the way we do

Conformity in Psychology- A study based on the Solomon Asch’ Paradigm Understanding the reasons why we act the way we do.
Chinwendu Ukoha
Industrial Relations and Human Resource Management

Introduction 4
Chapter 1 Conformity In Psychology5
Chapter 2 Psychologist View On Conformity9
Chapter 3 Solomon Asch’ Paradigm/Experiment16
Chapter 4 Conclusion and Comparison20

Imagine yourself in the following situation: You sign up for a psychology experiment, and on a specified date you and seven others whom you think are also subjects arrive and are seated at a table in a small room. You don't know it at the time, but the others are actually associates of the experimenter, and their behaviour has been carefully scripted. You're the only real subject. The experimenter arrives and tells you that the study in which you are about to participate concerns people's visual judgments. She places two cards before you. The card on the left contains one vertical line. The card on the right displays three lines of varying length. The experimenter asks all of you, one at a time, to choose which of the three lines on the right card matches the length of the line on the left card. The task is repeated several times with different cards. On some occasions the other "subjects" unanimously choose the wrong line. It is clear to you that they are wrong, but they have all given the same answer. What would you do? Would you go along with the majority opinion, or would you "stick to your guns" and trust your own eyes? This is the situation in conformity. People tend to conform in situations such as that stated above either by a desire to ‘fit in’ or be liked (normative) or because of a desire to be correct (informational) or simply to conform to a social role (identification). This study is going to be focused on human beings, their tendency to conform and the reasons why they conform.

Conformity in psychology

Conformityis the act of matching attitudes, beliefs and behaviour to group norms. It is the type of social influence involving a change in belief or behaviour in order to fit in with a group. . Norms are implicit rules shared by a group of individuals, that guide their interactions with others and among society or social group. People tend to conform when in small groups and/or society as a whole. It is as a result of subtle unconscious influences or direct and overt social pressure. People could even conform when they are alone i.e. eating or watching television. This change is in response to real (involving the physical presence of others) or imagined (involving the presence of social norms and/or expectations) group pressure. According to Crutchfield (1955), conformity can be defined as “yielding to group pressures” which could take the form of bullying, criticism, persuasion, teasing etc.

Conformity is also known as majority influence (or group pressure). It is often brought up by a desire to ‘fit in’ or to ‘be liked’ (normative) or because of a desire to be correct (informational), or simply to conform to social role (identification).

Though peer pressure could manifest negatively, conformity can have a bad or good effect depending on the situation. Driving on the correct side of the road could be seen as a beneficial conformity. Conformity influences formation and maintenance of social norms, and helps societies function smoothly and predictably via the self-elimination of behaviours seen as contrary to written rules. In this sense, it can be perceived as (though not proven to be) a positive force that prevents acts that are perceptually disruptive or dangerous.

The term conformity is often used to indicate an agreement to the...
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