Chapter 9: Conformity to social norms (pp. 309–314)
- What is the influence of other group members' opinions on the thoughts, feelings, and behaviors of an individual?
- What is the difference between privately and publicly conforming?
- Are there cultural differences in the views on conformity and the degree of conformity?
In this topic
- The Formation of Social Norms (pp. 309–312)
Public Versus Private Conformity (pp. 312–314)
- Conformity and false confessions in the interrogation room
- Conformity and culture
The Formation of Social Norms
Groups have influence on ambiguous (Sherif, 1936, see SP p. 309) and unambiguous situations (Asch, 1951, 1955, see SP p. 310); people often adopt the opinion of other group members and converge to social norms.
These social norms reflect group evaluations of what is right and wrong.
As a result of converging to groups' opinions, people become more alike when interacting in groups.
Public Versus Private Conformity
Conformity is the term used for the convergence of individuals' thoughts, feelings, and behavior towards a group's norms.
Private conformity occurs when people truly believe that the group is right and even occurs in the absence of group members.
Public conformity occurs when we are pressured and feel we do not have a choice other than to conform to group norms. When publicly conforming, people pretend to agree, but privately think the group is wrong.
Conformity and false confessions in the interrogation room
Uncertain people are more likely to conform, even when it means confessing to a crime. Public conformity is more likely to occur when a witness also agrees.
People can privately conform without realizing it.
Conformity and culture
In individualistic cultures, conformity is seen as something negative; whereas in collectivistic cultures, conformity is seen as a social glue. Accordingly, the degree of conformity is higher in collectivistic cultures than it is in individualistic cultures.
Case study: Conformity and culture
So what does this mean?
People conform to the opinion of other group members and converge to social norms, because of their need to master the world and the need to be connected by others. Private conformity occurs when people truly believe that the group is right, whereas public conformity occurs when we are pressured to conform to group norms. When publicly conforming, people still privately think the group is wrong. The degree of conformity is higher in collectivistic cultures, where they view conformity as a social glue, than it is in individualistic cultures, where conformity is seen as something negative.