Kalmia (1958) proposed three hypes of conformity for influence of a majority; Compliance, internationalist and identification. Compliance refers to an individual changing their public opinion or behavior even if they privately disagree. Internationalist is the changing of public and private opinions/behaviors. This may be because the other opinion is more valued, which may convince the individual, and lead to acceptance of the other point view. Identification is when an individual may accept influence to develop a closer connection or relationship.
It consists a little of both compliance and internationalist as the individual accepts influence as correct (internationalist), however the reason for this is to be accepted / obtain approval ( compliance Sash’s study (1958) is a prime example of majority influence. Sash rationalized that if a direct approach was taken and the situation stimulus wasn’t ambiguous, then there would be little or no conformity. He created a simple task, relatively easy to answer. Five people were sat in a room and asked to match the standard line to one of three options.
They were asked to give their answer out loud, turn by turn. Only one of the participants was the ‘real’ participant, the others were actually confederates. Sash found that on the 12 critical trials 37% of the answers given by participants were incorrect (they conformed). 76% of participants conformed at least once, hence 24% never conformed. Sash interviewed some of his participants to find out why they conformed and. He found that they gave one of three reasons. The first reason was distortion of perception. Participants reported that they came to see the lines in the same way as the majority.
The second was distortion of judgment – the participants doubted their own judgment in the task. Finally, the third reason they gave was compliance. They changed their public behavior even though they privately disagreed. This shows that majority influence can affect perception, judgment and behavior. (Crisp & Turner, 2009, Baron et al, 1998, Baron & Brainstorm, 201 2; Baron, Byrne &Johnson, 1998; crisp & Turner, 2009 Conformity doesn’t only focus on compliance and the power of the majority. In fact, historical reality demonstrates that, it is minority influence that brings about social change.
A key example of this is the suffragette movement in the sass’s which gradually changed political and public opinion . This shows that a persuasive minority can be very powerful. Microcosmic (1961) carried out a famous study investigating minority influence. There were a total of six participants; two confederates and four ‘real’ participants in each group. The participants were shown a set of slides and had to describe the color (either green or blue). He found that overall, on 8. 42% the participants agreed with the minority and 32% conformed at least once.
The position of the confederate made no difference. However, when confederates were inconsistent, conformity dropped to just 1. 25%. This implies that consistency and thus confidence is a key aspect of minority influence. In an interesting oration, participants were allowed to write down their answer. This increased conformity with the confederates. This suggests that minority influence is hindered by a reluctance to align themselves to a deviant minority. There are various factors that can have effects on the amount of conformity.
In one variation of Sash’s experiment, the differences be;en the lines were made smaller, therefore making the task harder. This increased the levels of conformity. On the other hand, influence of task difficult¶y’ on conformity was moderated by levels of self-efficacy. (Lucas et al, 2006 The size of the charity also matters. With only one or two confederates, the levels of conformity were low. However, with three confederates, conformity rose to 30%. Having more than three confederates did not show a significant increase .
Most important is the unanimity of the majority. If the ‘lone’ participant gets even one “ally”‘, levels of conformity drops sharply from 32% to 5. 5%. Interestingly, if the ‘ally’ also gives wrong answers, but those different from the other confederates, levels of conformity still drop. This indicates that the unanimity of the group is a key aspect for majority influence. Finally, an important factor for conformity is cohesiveness. The individual’s degree of attraction towards the majority is significant as pressure to conform is increased.
In fact, research suggests that, the higher the levels of conformity,; the more cohesive the group is likely to be (Hog, 1992 Research in to gender differences in conformity has found that women conform more often than men ( Eagle & Carla, 1981, Cooper, 1979, Eagle 1978 Eagle & Carla (1981) carried out a meta-analysis of 145 studies in group pressure conformity. They found that not only were women more compliant than men. They also found that male researchers were more likely to find gender differences. Senate and Jackson (1982) also found similar results.
Their research indicates that women viewed conformity in a more positive light, as a self-defining act . Males would interpret non-conformity as enhancing self-image. Females would conform to maintain harmony whereas are males more likely to diverge and be independent (Mismatch, Senate, and Wade, 1987). This clearly suggests that some gender differences do exist and can affect likeliness to conform . The above research only used participants living in antidisestablishmentarianism entries. An important aspect of conformity is cultural differences. Smith & Bond (1998) conducted a meta-analysis of 133 studies that took place in 17 countries.
These included individulisticindependent countries (such as US, ELK) and collectivist countries (such as Japan and Fiji). They found that levels of conformity were higher in collectivist countries. In fact, cultural variables had the greatest influence on conformity levels than any other variables . The findings indicate that culture can be used as a factor to determine likeliness to conform to majority or minority influence. There are two key explanations as to why people conform to social influence. Normative social influence is one such explanation. This is based on humans having the desire to be liked or accepted by others.
This generally occurs when the answer is clear and the task is not very important . As the importance of the task increases, the levels of conformity decreases . A likely result of normative social influence is public compliance and most often occurs in majority influence situations (as seen in Sash’s study). The other explanation is informational social influence. It is based on the desire to be right’ or correct. Having accurate social perceptions is important to humans and when levels of uncertainty are high, conformity through informational social influence increases .
This can be when there is an important or difficult task, and an individual is unsure. There is an adaptive advantage to this influence as this allows us to learn from those more knowledgeable than us. An important aspect is that it can result in private acceptance. A key point of this influence is that as task importance increases, levels of conformity rise. Supporting evidence for this can be found with Venereal and Brinkman (1996). In their study half the participants were told that task is very important and half that it is not. Both halves were given an easy task and a difficult task.
When task importance was low, levels of conformity were the same. However, when task importance was high, levels of conformity rose sharply during the difficult task. On the other hand, when the task was easy and task importance high, levels of conformity were the lowest. This suggests that the need to be ‘right’ is very strong. It also confirms that when there is uncertainty in difficult tasks, individuals are more susceptible to normative influence. This essay has discussed majority and minority influence, why people conform and the factors that make them more likely to conform.