Social Roles and Social Norms

Social Roles and Social Norms

The study was based on the debate over whether fox hunting should or should not be banned. The study involved two separate sessions where the participants completed a pre-test and were assigned to the pro- or anti- hunting groups. A spokesperson representing each view was brought in to discuss their opinions individually with each participant. The pro-hunting group was taken to another room and did not take further part in the study.

Understanding Conformity

what is the definition of conformity

What is conformity in simple words?

Conformity is a type of social influence involving a change in belief or behaviour in order to fit in with a group. This change is in response to real (involving the physical presence of others) or imagined (involving the pressure of social norms / expectations) group pressure.

what is the definition of conformity

Sherif suggested this was a reflection of how social norms develop in larger society. Social norms theory states that much of people’s behavior is influenced by their perception of how other members of their social group behave.

When individuals are in a state of deindividuation, they see themselves only in terms of group identity, and their behavior is likely to be guided by group norms alone. But while group norms have a powerful effect on behavior, they can only guide behavior when they are activated by obvious reminders or by subtle cues. People adhere to social norms through enforcement, internalization, the sharing of norms by other group members, and frequent activation. Individuals are rewarded for living up to their roles (i.e. students getting an “A” on their exam) or punished for not completing the duties of their role (i.e. a salesman is fired for not selling enough product). Social psychologists view compliance as a means of social influence used to reach goals and attain social or personal gains.

They were then asked to estimate the amount it moved; however, there was no real movement. Perceived motion was caused by the visual illusion known as the autokinetic effect. On the first day, each person perceived different amounts of movement, as they participated in the experiment individually.

For the in-group low-visibility condition part of the anti-hunting participants were taken to individual booths where they were not visible to others in the experiment. The remaining anti-hunting participants who were categorized under the in-group high visibility condition, were seated in a circle where each was visible to all throughout the experiment.


what is the definition of conformity

In contrast, John Turner and colleagues argue that the interpretation of the Asch conformity experiments as normative influence is inconsistent with the data. They point out that post-experiment interviews revealed that participants experienced uncertainty about their judgement during the experiments. Although the correct answer appeared obvious to the researchers, this was not necessarily the experience of participants. Subsequent research has demonstrated similar patterns of conformity where participants were anonymous and thus not subject to social punishment or reward on the basis of their responses. From this perspective, the Asch conformity experiments are viewed as evidence for the self-categorization theory account of social influence (otherwise known as the theory of referent informational influence).

Social Psychology

Conformity is the act of matching attitudes, beliefs, and behaviors to group norms, politics or being like minded. Norms are implicit, specific rules, shared by a group of individuals, that guide their interactions with others. People often choose to conform to society rather than to pursue personal desires because it is often easier to follow the path others have made already, rather than creating a new one.

  • Norms are implicit, specific rules, shared by a group of individuals, that guide their interactions with others.
  • Conformity is the act of matching attitudes, beliefs, and behaviors to group norms, politics or being like minded.
  • People often choose to conform to society rather than to pursue personal desires because it is often easier to follow the path others have made already, rather than creating a new one.

As deindividuation has evolved as a theory, some researchers feel that the theory has lost sight of the dynamic group intergroup context of collective behavior that it attempts to model. Some propose that deindividuation effects may actually be a product of group norms; crowd behavior is guided by norms that emerge in a specific context. Following the social models of identity proposed by deindividuation, the study conducted by Reicher, Levine and Gordijn expresses the strategic effects of visibility on the ingroup.

Example Answers for Social Influence: A Level Psychology, Paper 1, June 2018 (AQA)

In this case, the experimenters themselves triggered a response from the in-group, which was later analyzed through follow up experiments. Although conformity pressures generally increase as the size of the majority increases, a meta-analysis suggests that conformity pressures in Asch’s experiment peak once the majority reaches about four or five in number.

Sherif ( Autokinetic Effect Experiment

Moreover, a study suggests that the effects of group size depend on the type of social influence operating. This means that in situations where the group is clearly wrong, conformity will be motivated by normative influence; the participants will conform in order to be accepted by the group. A participant may not feel much pressure to conform when the first person gives an incorrect response. However, conformity pressure will increase as each additional group member also gives the same incorrect response. Behavior changes throughout an individual’s life, as they move through different stages of life.

Explanations of Conformity

This tendency to conform occurs in small groups and/or society as a whole, and may result from subtle unconscious influences (predisposed state of mind), or direct and overt social pressure. Conformity can occur in the presence of others, or when an individual is alone. For example, people tend to follow social norms when eating or watching television, even when alone. Muzafer Sherif was interested in knowing how many people would change their opinions to bring them in line with the opinion of a group. In his experiment , participants were placed in a dark room and asked to stare at a small dot of light 15 feet away.

After watching the video the participants were handed a questionnaire. They were asked to write their names on the front so that the out-group spokesperson would be able to identify the authors of the questionnaire before discussing the comments individually. To the experimenters’ surprise the experiment demonstrated the inverse of their hypothesis. The study showed that more participants were more likely to express normative behaviors that are punishable by powerful out-group when they are visible to fellow members of the same in-group.

Here, the observed conformity is an example of depersonalization processes, whereby people expect to hold the same opinions as others in their ingroup and will often adopt those opinions. Questions have been raised about the external validity of deindividuation research.

What is an example of conformity?

In some cases of conformity, a person’s desire to fit in with a social group can interfere with the ability to make moral or safe decisions. One example is when a person drinks and drives because friends do it, or because friends assure that person he or she can safely do so.

Their gaining of or submission to compliance is frequently influenced by construals—i.e. an individual’s interpretation of their social environment and interactions.

Compliance (or group acceptance)

From the second through the fourth day of the study, estimates were agreed upon by the group. Because there was no actual movement, the number that the group agreed on was a direct result of group conformity.

Experimenters also found that in-group participants actually expressed opposition to the roles imposed by the experimenters themselves. Instead of just uniting against hunt, some of the in-group participants resented being told that their group supported certain views—some regarded themselves as moderate pro- or anti- hunters instead.

Social Roles and Social Norms

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *