Conformity is a kind of social influence that occurs when an individual changes his or her attitudes, beliefs or behaviors to match or imitate those of other people. Psychologists have conceptually split this idea of social influence into two major categories. Informational influence occurs when we conform to others because we believe they have accurate information that we do not have. Normative influence occurs when we conform to others because we want them to like us and accept us. The literature has generally supported the conceptual uniqueness of these two types of social influence however they are interrelated to some extent and sometimes it can be difficult to determine the degree to which each of these two separate motivational factors has an impact on one’s behavior. Ultimately conformity occurs for motivational reasons people are motivated to have an accurate perception of reality that’s informational influence and they’re also motivated to be socially accepted and to belong to a group that’s normative influence. Will return to this idea later when we discuss how altering motivational states can influence conformity. Let’s talk about some psychological studies that have investigated conformity.
Solomon Asch conducted a classic set of experiments in the nineteen fifties examining how social pressure might influence conformity these studies found that when Confederates provided an incorrect answer sometimes the real participant after hearing the obviously incorrect answers would conform by giving the incorrect answer as well. This occurred about one-third of the time a meta-analysis that examined over hundred and thirty different type of line experiments studies revealed that group size was a relevant factor, such that the larger the group majority was the more likely the participant was to conform and given incorrect answer. Coming back now – how motivation is related to conformity a relatively recent study found that when participants were ignored by other people in a multiplayer video game. There are more likely to conform with a new group of people on a perceptual task.Compared to people who are not ignored by others in a video game in other words when people sense of belonging is threatened, they have an increased motivation to belong to a group and to feel accepted and therefore they’re more likely to conform. Conformity as a whole as a prevalent psychological process people conform all the time it’s a basic part of human nature and it’s not always a bad thing. One of the most basic and fundamental human desires is the need to belong and to feel socially accepted and this is one of the major influences also called the normative influence that leads to conformity.