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Discuss factors influencing conformity

Well first of all, there are two different types of conformity that you should be aware of:

Informational conformity

·         When an individual turns to members of a group to obtain information about what is right (e.g. when the available information is ambiguous).

Normative conformity

  • When an individual conforms in order to be accepted or liked by other members of the group.
  • People have a need for social approval and acceptance.


Situational factors in conformity: group size and group unanimity:

Group size:

  • Asch made variations of the original study by altering the amount of confederates. When there was only one confederate the participant answered correctly. With two confederates the minority participant’s errors rose to 13.6%. With three confederates the errors jumped to 31.8%. Further increases in confederates did not increase errors so Asch concluded that the size of opposition is important only up to a point. Asch suggested that with larger groups, participants may become resistant to conform if they suspect that members of the majority are working together on purpose.

Group unanimity:

  • Asch introduced social support to the naive participant, either another naive participant or a confederate who had been instructed to go along with the naive participant. The presence of a supporter reduced errors from 35% to around 5.5%. This is particularly the case if the supporter responds before the majority. This effect was seen even if the supporter was more incorrect than the majority, so it seems that breaking group unanimity is the main factor in reducing conformity.

Also the fact that you may admire the status of the group may affect whether or not you are more likely to conform.



Culture may also affect whether one conforms or not:

Study to use:  Asch (1951) and Berry (1967)