Conformity vs. Compliance vs. Acceptance

--Conformity: A change in behavior or belief as a result of a real
  or imagined group pressure.
--Compliance: Publicly acting in accord with social pressure while
  privately disagreeing.
--Acceptance: Both acting and believing in accord with social


Factors Affecting Obedience

--Emotional distance of victim: farther = more compliance;
  closer = less compliance.
--Closeness & legitimacy of authority: closer & more
  legitimacy = more compliance.
--Institutional authority: more prestigious = more compliance.
--Liberating effects of group influence: those acting out your
  internal feelings liberate you to act, yourself.


Research of Solomon Asch (1951)

Asch experiments ("Asch Paradigm")
- Participants believed they were in an experiment on perception
- Judgments given out loud
- Seven people in the room, only one real participant
- - The rest were "confederates" of Asch
- Used a simple line judgment task
- - Match one of three lines to a standard line
- "Majority" makes correct choices on first few trials
- On "critical trials" majority makes a wrong choice
- The subject's dilemma: Trust senses or conform to the majority
- - 70% conformed at least once
- - On 33% of the critical trials subjects conformed
- - Control Group: Virtually no errors (7.4%)


Pathways to Conformity

Asch interviewed participants after the experiment.
No one path to independence or conformity.

Three categories of Independent subjects
- Trusted senses
- - Coped best with majority pressure
- - Confident in judgments and coped with conflict
- Independent and withdrawn
- - Strong need to remain independent
- Motivated to do well on the task
- - Felt tension and doubt about own judgments

Three categories of Yielding Subjects
- Distortions of perception
- - Unaware that their judgments were distorted
- - Yielded completely
- - Fewest subjects
- Distortions of judgment
- - Most yielding subjects
- - Little confidence in judgments
- - Accepted judgments were wrong
- Distortions of action
- - Knew majority was wrong, but conformed
- - Did not want to appear different or defective
- - Aware that own judgments were suppressed


Factors Affecting Conformity

Nature of the task
- More conformity on an ambiguous than clear task
- Type of task affects type of conformity
- - Intellective task (correct answer): Informational social influence
- - Judgmental task (no correct answer): Normative social influence

True partner effect: Conformity reduced if there is another person who
supports the nonconforming individual's position

- Majority supports the real subject's judgment
- Conformity was cut by nearly 80%!
- If the true partner withdraws support, conformity goes back to its original level
- Explanations for true partner effect
- - Diffuse pressure by convincing yourself that you are not the only one
violating a norm
- - True partner increases confidence that your view is correct



return to Social Psychology