“The subjects did not suffer the modification of perception, nor did they conclude that they were wrong. They yielded because they feared being excluded… They voiced the majority position with a full awareness of what they were doing. “7 The following example is a result of a small formal cross-divisional group, which also included an informal group. In the first semester of the second year one of our group members was assigned to a marketing project team. Sam* found out that her marketing group consisted of two GIMML’s, two FIMML’s and one SPIMML.
Already at the first meeting, they had problems deciding on the topic of the coursework. With pressure and even threat of not doing the expected workload for the project, Sam* had persuaded the group of the quality of her idea. If we use Asch’s theory for this example, this would comply with the “Distortion of Action” which is the fear of the other group members of potentially being excluded from the group. This exclusion would have been in terms of not being asked about their opinion about the progress of the project.
It was therefore easier for them to initially conform to the pressure exerted. In fact, they were suppressing their own observation as to what would be a suitable subject area. When the group came together in the following weeks, the leadership shifted from Sam* to one of the GIMMLs, which in turn made Sam* turn away form the group and “not care” about the outcome of the coursework. The reason behind this was because her first attempt of pressurising the group had failed.
In other words she was overthrown because of her non-conformity with the rest of the group. To summarise this example we can say that the group was in fact temporarily modified. An informal group (friendship) between the two GIMMLs was evident, not however between the two FIMMLs, and this had an impact on the construction of the group and the shift in leadership, since the GIMML, who lead later on, had a “supporter” (one conformed to her authority so the others were also convinced that she had the ability to lead). Conclusion
From the outset, whilst our IMML experience can be related to Asch and Tajfel, to both support and criticise the theory of Individuals in groups, and conformity to group norms, it must be noted that each example, having derived from personal experience is biased, since we cannot know what other group members have thought of their shared past experiences. It is likely therefore that our stereotypes dominate our perceived knowledge of experience. Through our group discussions we have come to agreement that the smaller the group gets, the more evident and thus important conforming becomes.
In addition to this we believe that established groups do not conform to newcomers, but newcomers conform to previously established groups. Furthermore, conformity in smaller groups is easier than in bigger groups due to the individual behaviour, which becomes more apparent the smaller the group gets. This was highlighted with the example of the OB lecture, where people did not conform. This stands in comparison to Harry, who in fact conformed to what the students of Seminar B solicited upon him. As a group we initially struggled to find many examples of norms within FIMML, as they are not obvious to us because we already conform to them.
This shows how the group norms bind the group together and that there are different sets of both pivotal and peripheral norms, which differ between the divisions from IMML as a whole to separate language groups. In a culturally diverse group, as the IMML course is, it is difficult to make broad assumptions of group norms and to apply the theories of Asch and Tajfel because the norms of this formal group have not derived from evolving collective group behaviour but from their own personal environments.