What is Conformity?

Conformity is a phenomenon through which the values or attitudes of people within a group are affected by others. People can be influenced through subtle mechanisms, including subconscious ones, or through direct and open peer pressure. Conformity can have either good or bad effects on people, ranging from safe driving on the right side of the road to a dangerous drug or alcohol abuse. Numerous factors, such as group size, unanimity, unity, rank, previous engagement, and public opinion all help determine the level of conformity that a person may represent towards his or her community.

Conformity influences the formation and maintenance of social norms. In this research paper, I will discuss more conformity and different types of conformity. Moreover, my Friend Emiliya and I are going to do some group conformity experiments outside our university in order to see if people will trust their own judgments or f they will depend on other people’s behavior. Moreover, to demonstrate the factor of pressure on public judgment.

Keywords: Conformity, Behavior, Group, majority, Normative, Informative

What is Conformity?

Conformity is a type of social control that requires a change in belief or action to fit into a group. This transition is the answer to the true or imagined group pressure. Conformity can also simply be described as “yielding to group pressures” (Crutchfield, 1955). For example, harassment, coercion, mockery, criticism, etc., group pressure can take different forms. Conformity is also known as majority control (or group pressure). The word conformity is often used to denote a majority position agreement arising either from a desire to ‘fit in ‘ or be accepted (normative) or from the desire to be right (informative) or simply to conform to a social role (identification).

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Moreover, Jenness (1932) was the first to research a conformity psychologist. His research has been an unclear case involving a bean-filled glass bottle. He asked individual participants to estimate the number of beans found in the bottle. Jenness then put the team with the bottle in a room and asked them through discussion to provide a group estimate. Participants were then asked to re-estimate the amount on their own to find out if their initial estimates had changed on the basis of majority impact. Then Jenness surveyed the respondents again separately and asked if they would like to adjust their original estimates or stick with the estimation of the team. Nearly all modified their individual expectations to be closer to the assessment of the group. Maybe Solomon Asch (1951) and his line decision experiment were the most successful conformity experiment, however.

Why Do We Conform?

Studies found that people adhere to a number of different reasons.3 In many situations, searching for answers to how we should behave can actually be useful to the rest of the group. Others may have more knowledge or experience than we do, and following their lead may potentially be instructive. In some instances, We are in line with the desires of the team to avoid looking dumb. This pattern can become particularly strong in circumstances where we are not quite sure how to behave or where expectations are unclear. Deutsch and Gerard established two main reasons for people’s conformity in 1955: data influence and normative influence.

Types of Conformity


This happens when an individual embraces power because he hopes that a favorable reaction can be achieved by another person or group. He adopts the actions caused by expecting to receive specific benefits or approval and by compliance to avoid specific punishment or rejection “(Kelman, 1958, p. 53). It is seen in the test of Asch’s row.   Compliance ceases when there is no social pressure to conform, so it is a temporary change in behavior.


It occurs’ when a person embraces control because the substance of the induced behavior — the ideas and acts of which it is composed — is intrinsically satisfying. He takes induced behavior because it is compatible with his set of values ‘ (Kelman, 1958, p. 53). Internalization requires public and private compliance at all times. A person changes their behavior publicly to fit in with the group while agreeing privately with them as well. This is the highest degree of conformity if the group’s values are part of the own belief system of the individual. This means that the behavior change is permanent. It is seen in the autokinetic test by Sherif. This is most likely to happen when the majority has more knowledge, and minority members have little knowledge to question the majority position.


It occurs when an individual embraces control because he wants to establish or sustain a satisfactory relationship of self-definition with another individual or group (Kelman, 1958, p. 53). Individuals are in line with social role expectations, such as nurses, police officers. It is close to enforcement because private opinion does not need to alter. A good example is the study of Zimbardo’s jail.


This is when an individual conforms to please or win other people’s favor/acceptance. It is similar to normative control but is driven by the need for social benefits rather than by the risk of rejection, i.e. group pressure does not come into the decision to conform.

The Role of Motivation

People conform to group pressure because they are dependent on the group for satisfying two important desires: the desire to have an accurate perception of reality and the desire to be accepted by other people. People want the world to have precise beliefs because such beliefs usually lead to rewarding results. Some of the world’s beliefs can be confirmed by using objective tests; some cannot be verified by using objective standards and must therefore be tested by using social tests, i.e. comparing one’s beliefs with those of others whose opinion one values. If the others agree with one’s beliefs, you gain trust in them; if they disagree, you lose trust. Because conflict is upsetting, people are motivated to eradicate it, and one way to do this is to comply with community expectations. According to this study, people often adhere to groups because they are unsure about the validity of their views and feel that the community is more likely than they are to be right. Such conformity reflects what informational influence was labeled by American researchers Morton Deutsch and Harold Gerard. The power of data generally gives rise to both private acceptance and public action. This is illustrated in the work of Sherif, which showed that people who judged an ambiguous stimulus showed both compliance (when they made judgments in the presence of others) and acceptance (when they responded privately later). Since informational influence is based on insecurity about one’s values, if an individual feels dependent on others for information, one would expect it to be more popular. In line with this hypothesis, people exhibit greater conformity when working on ambiguous tasks than on unambiguous tasks. They also conform more when they have doubts about their own task skills and when they think other group members are highly skilled in the task.

Normative Conformity

  • Putting pressure on the group because an individual wants to fit in with the group. For example. Analysis of the Asch Board.
  • Conforming. Because the person is afraid that the group will reject him.
  • This type of conformity usually involves compliance – when a person accepts a group’s views publicly but opposes them privately.

Informational Conformity

  • It usually happens when an individual has lacks information and looks for guidance from the group
  • Or when a person is in a situation that is ambiguous (i.e. unclear) and compares his actions with the group E.g. Report by Sherif
  • This type of conformity usually involves internalization – where a person accepts a group’s views as individuals.

Research and Experiments

Conformity is something that happens constantly in our society. We are sometimes aware of our behavior, but in many cases it happens without much thought or awareness about them. In some situations, we’re going along with something that we don’t agree with or behave in ways that we know we shouldn’t. Some of the best-known conforming psychological experiments deal with people who go along with the group, even when they think the group is incorrect.

  • Jenness’s 1932 Experiment: Jenness asked participants to estimate the number of beans in a jar in one of the earliest conformity experiments. They individually estimated the number first and later made it a part of the. After being questioned as a group, they were then asked individually again and the experimenter found that their predictions changed from their original guess to what other group members had estimated.
  • Sherif’s Autokinetic Effect Experiments: Muzafer Sherif asked participants in a series of experiments to estimate how far a dot of light moved in a dark room. The dot was static in reality, but it seemed to move because of something known as the autokinetic effect. In essence, tiny eye movements make it appear that in a dark room a small spot of light is moving. The responses of the participants varied considerably when asked individually. However, when he asked the participant as part of a group, Sherif found the answers converging to a central mean. The results of Sherif’s experiment showed that people will conform to the group in an ambiguous situation, an example of informational influence.
  • Asch’s Conformity Experiments: In this series of famous experiments, psychologist Solomon Asch asked participants to complete what they believed was a simple perceptual task. They were asked to choose a line that matched the length of one of three different lines. When asked individually, participants would choose the correct line. When asked in the presence of Confederates who were in on the experiment and who intentionally selected the wrong line, around 75% of participants conformed to the group at least once. This experiment is a good example of normative influence; participants changed their answers and conformed to the group in order to fit in and avoid standing out.

What is Non-Conformity?

Not everybody is in line with social pressure. Indeed, there are several factors leading to the desire of a person to remain independent of the group. Smith and Bond (1998), for example, found cultural differences in conformity between the countries of the West and the East. Those from Western cultures (such as America and the United Kingdom) are more likely to be individualistic and do not want to be treated the same as anybody else. This means that they value being independent and self-sufficient (the individual is more important than the group), and as such are more likely to be involved in non-compliance. In contrast, Eastern societies (such as Asian countries) are more likely than their own to understand the needs of the family and other social groups. They are known and more likely to conform as collectivist cultures.

Discussion and conclusions

Theories on the relationship between majority size and conformity have all proposed that it will take one particular form, whereas the main argument of this analysis is that the shape of the relationship will vary depending on the mechanism of social influence of the role and its environment. The literature review revealed that there is weak empirical evidence that details the relationship. Few studies have directly investigated the relationship and produced mixed and inconclusive findings, partly because different paradigms and tasks are likely to have resulted in different processes. Previous meta-analyses often took on a single form of relationship and thus pooled findings through heterogeneous sets of studies, rather than exploring the possibility that the type of relationship would differ depending on the characteristics of the sample. Therefore, the narrative review has shown that any conclusions about this relationship are difficult to draw, which illustrates the need for a more oriented study of the kind given by the meta-analysis described here. This meta-analysis shows that the relationship between the ships varies depending on the model type and the response type.

For public reactions, both Asch and Crutchfield paradigms have a poor positive, linear relationship between conformity and majority size. The Crutchfield paradigm has a strong positive correlation for private responses, but the evidence from the four studies in this analysis shows that the relationship may be negative in the Asch paradigm. Nevertheless, it is important to await further research just how robust these findings are. That a curvilinear model was also better suited when a dyadic influence analysis (i.e. one origin of influence) was included. The literature has scarcely explored the processes involved in dyadic influence, falling numerically between the dominant concerns with the majority and minority influence, but this would be a fruitful topic for further research.

The negative association observed in studies using an Asch model for private responses was not expected and must be treated with caution given the small number of such studies. Another possibility is the anticipation of skepticism, and this is a variable that usually needs to be considered as it is likely to be established with the majority size. It may not be surprising to find that some others hold a view contrary to themselves uniformly, but discovering that several do is much more surprising. Therefore, the more people we expect to agree with but who nonetheless unanimously support a different view, the more likely we are to become suspicious.

Cite this page

What is Conformity?. (2020, Sep 11). Retrieved from http://studymoose.com/what-is-conformity-essay

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