Essay on Conformity - Social Psychology

4815 Words Dec 13th, 2010 20 Pages
SOCIAL PSYC 103
Organizational Studies/Psychology 103
Take Home Exam 2, Summer Session, 2010
1. Define conformity, and distinguish between compliance, obedience, and acceptance, giving examples of each. What types of influences lead to conformity? When are we likely to conform and why does it have a negative connotation in Western society? Compare and contrast the conformity experiments of Sherif and Asch. Describe their methodology and the results that they observed. What processes seem to be at work in each case? In your view, would we get the same results today? Conformity is defined by Aronson (1988) as ‘a change in a persons behaviour or opinions as a result of real or imagined pressure from a person or group of people.
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Their definition of informational social influence is the need to be right, to have an accurate perception of reality. So when we are uncertain or face a question with no right or wrong answer, we look to others to help us perceive the situation accurately. This social comparison with others is in order to reduce the uncertainty. Normative social influence is the need to be accepted by other people, and to make a favorable impression on them. We conform so that we gain social approval and avoid rejection, others have the power over us to reward, accept, punish, or reject us. A crucial difference between these two types of influence is that informational influence leads people to change their private opinions, whereas normative influence does not. Alternatively Kelman (1958) argued that there are three main reasons why someone conforms, compliance, identification, and internalization. Compliance involves conforming to the majority even though you may not really agree with them. As this conformity is only superficial, compliance ends when there are no group pressures to conform. Identification occurs when someone conforms to the demands of a given role in society. For example air stewards are always helpful and smiling no matter how they feel inside, they behave this way because they are conforming to what is expected of them. Internalization occurs when someone conforms because they are really in agreement with the views of the majority. We

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