Conformity The participants changed their decision on the basis

Conformity is a method
of social influence concerning a variation in behaviour or belief in order to integrate
within a group of people. Conformity can also be identified as ‘yielding to
group pressures’ (Crutchfield 1995). A person may choose to conform to a decision
that is highly favoured by the majority or what appears to correspond with
being socially acceptable; also known as majority influence. The term
conformity can often indicate a desire to fit in or be liked within social
interaction. Individuals often conform as they lean on people for guidance;
whether it be friends, family, associates etc. Situational dynamics have a
greater impact on shaping decision making than behavioural factors for
conformity is not necessarily an everyday occurrence whereas a person’s
characteristics are inbred within. The value of conformity begins from
childhood, this behaviour is essential for socialisation. Generally; children
conform to be accepted and become part of a group; this gives a sense of
belongingness and security.

The first psychologist
to study conformity was Jenness (1932). His experiment involved a glass bottle
of beans and a group of people, they were firstly required to give their individual
estimates of how many beans they thought were in the bottle. The participants
were then divided in to groups of three and were then asked to provide
estimates by talking and discussing the number of beans in the jar. Following the
group talk, individual estimates were again requested to compare if their
answers had been influenced from the group talk; which in turn the vast majority
had changed their minds. The results demonstrate the power conformity holds in an
ambiguous, group based setting. The participants changed their decision on the
basis of believing the group estimate was more likely to be closer to the exact
number of beans than their own presumption. Individual behaviour and decision making
can ultimately be shaped by the presence of others. There can be pros and cons
to this attitude though, for example; work environment, team games and political
activism display positive implications whereas, peer pressure and negative, unconstructive
influences can lead to negative consequences.

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The reasons for
people to join groups in the first place can also cause them to confirm,  for example; gain acceptance from group
members, achieve aspirations other groups intend to reach. Social influence represents the habits and techniques in which external
factors can have an impact and change in an individual. It guides the way we
behave and guides our way in thinking. Compliance, obedience and conformity are
all concepts of social influence. It is evident in everyday life, people adhere
to unwritten social norms systemizing their lives by obeying guidelines provided
by an authority figure. The changes that lead social influence can instant or
delayed, intended or unintended and explicit or implicit. Social norms are an
expected way of behaving within culture or society, once a specific way of
doing something has become established as a norm, people conform as it seems
the right way to do things. Research and paradigms have shown that when a
person is challenged