Discuss theories and/or research relating to why individuals conform.

Essay by chermadUniversity, Bachelor's March 2004

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A definition of conformity is "the tendency to allow one's opinions, attitudes, actions and even perceptions to be affected by prevailing opinions, attitudes and perceptions" (Reber, 2002, pg145 ). David Myers (1999) defines conformity as "a change in behaviour or belief as a result of real or imagined group pressure." (M Cardwell et al,2002, pg 107.) Without even knowing it many people conform, for example, the way an individual will dress when with friends. Social influence is the presence of others that affect the way people think, feel and behave, this is what causes conformity. Group pressure is a common factor in conformity, these groups can consist of peers, family members, membership groups or even strangers can influence conformity. Conformity refers to how people behave in a group or in society and how our behaviour changes because of the social influences. (Cardwell et al, 2000) This essay will examine research that has been conducted in order to explain why individuals conform.

The research will also explain different theories that Psychologists have formed to understand why people conform in group situations.

Every group or situation encountered in everyday life is governed by social norms. Social norms are the accepted way to behave within a group or environment. There are norms for every social group ranging from work environments, socialising and even waiting your turn at the petrol station. Every place or group has it own social norm, for example, when driving on public roads, individuals are expected to follow all the rules but when driving in banger racing on private land, then individuals are expected to speed and collide with other cars. Without social norms, society would collapse into chaos, we need to know and understand what is expected of us. (M Eysenck, 2000)

Psychologists have recognised two forms of social...