Conformity Essay

1362 Words 6 Pages
According to Leon Mann, conformity means ‘yielding to group pressures’. Everyone is a member of one group or another and everyone expects members of these groups to behave in certain ways. If you are a member of an identifiable group you are expected to behave appropriately to it. If you don’t confirm and behave appropriately you are likely to be rejected by the group.
Like stereotypes, conforming and expecting others to conform maintains cognitive balance.

There are several kinds of conformity. Many studies of conformity took place in the 1950’s which led Kelman to distinguish between compliance, internalisation and identification. Compliance is the type of conformity where the subject goes along with the group view, but privately
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During the group sessions it became apparent that the subjects reports strarted to converge much nearer to an average of what their individual reports had been. If a subject who had said that the light didn’t move very far when tested individually said ‘I think it is moving 2 inches to the left’ then another who had reported movement of 4 inches, when tested individually, might say ‘I think it may have been 3 inches’.
As the number of reported movements continued the more the members of the group conformed to each others reports. This spot of light was in fact stationary so whatever reports were made was the consequence of the subject imagining they saw something happen. So they were not certain about the movement they observed and so would not feel confident about insisting that their observations were wholly correct. When they heard other reported judgements they may have decided to go along with them.

The problem with this study, for understanding of conformity, as one aspect of social psychology is that it is a total artifical experimental situation - there isn’t even a right answer. Requested reports of imaginary movements of a stationary spot of light in a darkened room when alone, or with two others, hardly reflects situations we come accross in our every day
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