Conformity is a methodof social influence concerning a variation in behaviour or belief in order to integratewithin a group of people. Conformity can also be identified as ‘yielding togroup pressures’ (Crutchfield 1995). A person may choose to conform to a decisionthat is highly favoured by the majority or what appears to correspond withbeing socially acceptable; also known as majority influence.
The termconformity can often indicate a desire to fit in or be liked within socialinteraction. Individuals often conform as they lean on people for guidance;whether it be friends, family, associates etc. Situational dynamics have agreater impact on shaping decision making than behavioural factors forconformity is not necessarily an everyday occurrence whereas a person’scharacteristics are inbred within. The value of conformity begins fromchildhood, this behaviour is essential for socialisation.
Generally; childrenconform to be accepted and become part of a group; this gives a sense ofbelongingness and security.The first psychologistto study conformity was Jenness (1932). His experiment involved a glass bottleof beans and a group of people, they were firstly required to give their individualestimates of how many beans they thought were in the bottle. The participantswere then divided in to groups of three and were then asked to provideestimates by talking and discussing the number of beans in the jar. Following thegroup talk, individual estimates were again requested to compare if theiranswers had been influenced from the group talk; which in turn the vast majorityhad changed their minds. The results demonstrate the power conformity holds in anambiguous, group based setting. The participants changed their decision on thebasis of believing the group estimate was more likely to be closer to the exactnumber of beans than their own presumption.
Individual behaviour and decision makingcan ultimately be shaped by the presence of others. There can be pros and consto this attitude though, for example; work environment, team games and politicalactivism display positive implications whereas, peer pressure and negative, unconstructiveinfluences can lead to negative consequences. The reasons forpeople to join groups in the first place can also cause them to confirm, for example; gain acceptance from groupmembers, achieve aspirations other groups intend to reach. Social influence represents the habits and techniques in which externalfactors can have an impact and change in an individual. It guides the way webehave and guides our way in thinking. Compliance, obedience and conformity areall concepts of social influence. It is evident in everyday life, people adhereto unwritten social norms systemizing their lives by obeying guidelines providedby an authority figure.
The changes that lead social influence can instant ordelayed, intended or unintended and explicit or implicit. Social norms are anexpected way of behaving within culture or society, once a specific way ofdoing something has become established as a norm, people conform as it seemsthe right way to do things. Research and paradigms have shown that when aperson is challenged