What Social Psychological Factors Play a Role in Determining Whether a Person Conforms, Complies and Obeys?

Topics: Social psychology, Conformity, Psychology Pages: 3 (1019 words) Published: January 12, 2011
To start with it is important to determine what each of these social processes mean, in order to understand which psychological factors are involved. Conformity is a behavioural change in response to social pressure, either real or imagined. Compliance is a behaviour change in response to an explicit request to perform an action. Obedience is a behaviour change in response to a demand or order to carry out an action. Each of these processes are undertaken due to different psychological pressures being put on the individual, from believing that they have no choice but to carry out the action – obedience, to carrying out the action because they want to feel accepted. Conformity has had a lot of interest from psychologists and has caused a lot of very well known experiments to be undertaken. Crutchfield found that there were individual differences that influenced whether a person had a high conformity rate or a lower conformity rate. The ones that would conform the most would be those which were less intellectually competent, had less ego strength, were more narrow minded, and had lower leadership ability. If this conforming personality were to exist then it should conform in a variety of situations, however inconsistency was found across differing situations by McGuire. Other theories of conformity would be the informational social influence theory, the normative social influence theory and the referent social influence theory. Informational social influence suggests that the motive for conformity is based on the need that everyone has for certainty. If an individual was placed in an ambiguous situation, they would be more likely to refer to others to know how to react. Asch conducted a study in which out of a group of participants, only one was a real participant, the others were confederates, who gave wrong answers to questions asked. A few of the real participants experienced perceptual distortion, but the majority believed that the group’s judgement was...

References: • Weiten, W. Psychology Themes and Variations. Thomson Wadsworth
• Hill, G. Psychology Through Diagrams. Oxford University Press (1998)
• Haralambos, M., Rice, D. (2002). Psychology in Focus. Causeway Press
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