Conformity and Its Meaning Essay

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Conformity and Its Meaning

This assignment focuses upon conformity and what it means to us.

Conformity is defined by Zimbardo (1992) as "A tendency for people to adopt behaviour, values and attitudes of other members of a reference group".

Why people conform is a topic of much debate.

People don't always conform for the same reason's, in 1958 Kelman identified three main forms of conformity, each of which could produce conforming behaviour but in different ways.

The first of these and the most superficial is Compliance: Going along with the majority in order to avoid rejection or in order to gain rewards such as social acceptance or approval. The distinguishing feature of compliance
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The third form of conformity which Kelman identified was that of Internalisation: This form of conformity comes from the persons own value system, their way of understanding the world and morality in both small and large matters. It is about doing what we believe in. With this type of conformity, someone may accept another person's influence and conform to their demands or expectations, not because that person is anyone special but because they wholeheartedly agree with the principles involved. With this kind of conformity, the conforming behaviour is likely to last very much longer than the actual situation requires because the person has "adopted" it for their own and it has become part of their internal value system.

We can see from these forms of conformity that people act in accordance with others for many different reasons and also that conformity isn't necessarily a bad thing. However our likelihood of conforming to others is partly dependant on our own opinion of ourselves as well as other people's demands on us.

There have been many studies over the years by various psychologists, including: Triplett (1898) and his "fishing reel" experiment, Sherif (1936) and the "Autokinetic effect" experiment involving the various moving lights,

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