Why Do People Conform?

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The causes of conformity among individuals have long been debated and researched in recent decades. It is for this reason that conformity is an intriguing psychological concept. It causes sound-minded individuals to go against their best judgement, to engage in behaviour which they usually would not engage in, even accept and welcome an idea they internally disagree with, all in order to not be a deviant from the group. It is thus interesting to look at the factors which cause people to conform, to do what they see others doing, to rely on the judgements of the group, and to ignore their own senses and perceptions. It is the reasons for the individual's desire to conform that I will be discussing in this paper.…show more content…
In Asch's experiments, a group of eight individuals (one subject and seven confederates) sat in a room and verbally stated which of the three unequal lines matched a given line. The subject was seated so that he made his verbal judgement last, or close to it. The task was simple and straight-forward and the correct answers were obvious. When the confederates were each calling out correct answers the subject agreed. However, when the confederates unanimously agreed on a wrong answer the subject had either to disagree with a unanimous majority of seemingly normal, healthy, intelligent people, or to give an answer he knew was incorrect by the evidence of his own senses. Asch's study proved startling. In the trials about one third of the subjects conformed at least once. People were clearly choosing what they knew to be wrong answer so as to not deviate from the group. What do these studies show us about people, and their reasons for conforming? I believe that the individual's desire to be correct plays a key role in this type of conformity. People often rely on social cues around them, in a given situation, when making judgements. In a group situation, like that in the Sherif experiment, if an individual is unsure about something they will look at the judgements of others in order to determine the correct response. According to Blanton and Christie people
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