The Power of Conformity

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The Power of Conformity

Ryan Herlong

Conformity refers to an individual's behavior that is performed because of group pressure, even though that pressure might not involve a direct request. Many people want to think that they are conformist enough so that they are not looked upon as strange to others and nonconformist enough to demonstrate that they are capable of thinking by themselves. For many years, psychologists have been interested in human conformity. Usually when people are in groups, they behave according to how those in the group behave. That indicates that conformity can affect a person's behavior and make a person do things that may be against their ethics, attitudes, and morals. The study of conformity was first studied in the 1950s by Solomon Asch. His experiments were very important to the study of conformity. Asch wanted to find out how conformity could influence behavior. He did not want to focus on the general concepts like ethics, morals, attitudes, and belief systems. Instead, he focused on a more obvious concept which was perceptional conformity. Since he performed the experiment on a simple task, he was able to study conformity in a controlled environment. Asch wanted to apply group pressure to the experiment so he could manipulate a person's behavior. For the experiment, he made three pairs of cards with three different lengths of vertical lines on one side. On the other side, there was a single line that was the same length as one of the lines on the front side. Asch had seven subjects sitting down in a laboratory. Then an eighth subject was brought in the room to sit down. What the eighth subject did not know was the other seven subjects were not exactly subjects. They knew what to do and what would happen. An experimenter held up one of the cards and the subjects had to match on of the lines with the single line. For the first two cards, the seven matched the two pairs on lines correctly....
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