Conformity and Obedience / Group Pressure and Conformity

Topic: Conformity and Obedience/ Group Pressure and Conformity

Posted by: Joon and Stacy

Key Terms:

  • Conformity: adjusting one's behavior or thinking to coincide with a group standard.
  • Normative Social Influence: influence resulting from a person's desire to gain approval or avoid disapproval.
  • Informational Social Influence: influence resulting from one's willingness to accept other's opinions about reality.


“Behavior is contagious”. In life, when one person starts to laugh, cough, or yawn, then people around tend to the same actions. According to Tanya Chartrand and John Bargh, we are natural mimics under the “chameleon effect.” Even though we don not notice that we are copying other’s actions, we unconsciously mimic others. Furthermore, sociologist David Phillips concluded that suicides, too, have the ability to be contagious. For example, after Marilyn Monroe was found dead in 1962 publicly, the rate of suicides has exceeded by 200. So the question is , does group pressure and conformity effect people’s actions?

Suggestibility is a type of conformity. Solomon Asch (1955) devised an experiment. Take five people seated. The experimenter asks which of the three comparison lines is identical to a standard line. Let’s say you are one of the participants. Slowly you are getting bored and thinking the experiment is easy. After several trials, comes the decisive trial when the correct answer seems obvious, but other four participants give answer that you think is wrong. Now you have to decide to between being correct and being an odd-ball. What answer will you give?

Conditions that Strengthen Conformity
-a person is made to feel incompetent or insecure
-the group has at least three people
-the group is unanimous.(The support of a single person dissident greatly increases social courage.)
-a person admires the group’s status and attractiveness
-a person has made no prior commitment to any response
-others in the group observe the person’s behavior.
-the person’s culture strongly encourages respect for social standards.

Do you clap when others clap? It’s all conformity. WHY? Humans are sensitive to social norms. (Normative Social Influence). OR the group may provide important info. We accept others’ opinions about reality, we are responding to informational social influence.

How is conformity regarded? It all depends on the culture of the country. Some countries value individualism, whereas, in other cultures, it is a taboo to not follow the social norm.

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Conformity and Obedience / Group Pressure and Conformity - The Neuron

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