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Conformity and Social Norms
How Do I Best Address These LOCs?
 Provide a definition of conformity:
Definition: A type of social
influence in which individuals change
their attitudes or behavior to adhere to
existing social norms.
• - ORCrane’s Definition: The tendency to
adjust one’s thoughts, feelings, or
behavior in ways that are in agreement
with those of a particular individual or
group, or with social norms.
Crane’s Definition of Conformity
 Definition: The tendency to adjust one’s
thoughts, feelings, or behavior in ways that
are in agreement with those of a particular
individual or group, or with social norms.
Provide a definition or understanding of
Social Norms
 Set of rules based on socially or culturally shared
beliefs of how individuals ought to behave.
We wear clothes
What are the two stated types of
 Private
– a private acceptance of
social norms
 Public
– overt behavior
consistent with social norms that
are not privately accepted.
I’m emo, but am not
About those marbles…
Jennes 1932
Jar of beans
 Jennes was the first person to study conformity, his
experiment involved a glass bottle filled with beans. He
asked people individually to estimate how many beans the
bottle contained, then put the group in a room with the
bottle, and asked them to provide a group estimate.
 He then interviewed the subjects individually again, and
asked if they would like to change their original estimates,
or stay with the group's estimate.
 Results
 Almost all changed their individual guesses to be closer
to the group estimate.
Jennes (1932)
Jennes (1932) results
 Jennes found that when participants were asked
separately after the group estimate, the estimates
of the participants had come closer together
around the central/group figure.
Jennes (1932) conclusion
• When we are unsure of the answer, we will look
to others in the group – assuming that a group
guess must be more correct than an individual
guess. We conform to the group norm.
 Methodology- Complex social situation
reduced to a Lab experiment
 Lacks ecological validity – In real-life situations
conformity usually takes place when people
are in groups with whom they have longlasting ties; groups of friend, colleagues or
family members rather than artificial groups of
 Ethics - no informed consent – real aim of the study was
not given to Ps.
 Ethics - Problem being that participants might have
behaved differently if they were made aware that they
were being tested on conformity.
 Ethics – Argued to be ok because it was a minor and
justifiable deception.
SOME Factors that affect conformity
 Group Size
 Unanimity
 Confidence
 Culture
Group Size
More people =
Less people =
Unanimous =
Non-unanimous =
More confidence
Less confidence =
Collectivist =
Individualistic =
SIT & ingroup
In-Group = ?
Out-group = ?
Factors that affect conformity
Abrams et al. (1990)
Pearson – p.128/Moodle pdf
Using SIT
Referent informational influence
 You want to adhere to a person’s in-group
 You conform in order to stay in the in-group
(maintain your social identity)
 More likely to conform if you believe you are part of
that group
Using SIT
According to Hogg (2010)
Different from informational influence:
 People conform because they are group members
 NOT to avoid social disproval
 People conform to the norm
 NOT to other people (use others as an indicator of the
Referent informational
B.B.B – BONUS Information
Other Concepts –
Authority: ‘The Wave’, Milgram…soooo many examples that you
already have!
 Ambiguity: Sheriff (1935)
 Cognitive Dissonance: (Festinger et al) – Crane 123
 Group Think: (Janis, 1972 & Baron, 2005)Pearson 131-132 &
Crane 122
 Risky Shift: (Wallach et al, 1962 + previous SIT material) Pearson
pgs 130-131