Conformity In Social Psychology

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Conformity may be defined as the process whereby group members tend to share similar thoughts and emotions and act in similar ways. There have been numerous studies over the years which examine conformity and why people behave the way that they do under the given circumstances. Such research, and the issues linked with conformity, will be focused on in this essay in an effort to highlight that sometimes its benefits can be disregarded. One of the first social psychological experiments concentrated on conformity that stimulated further research on the topic dates back to 1936 and was carried out by Muzafer Sherif. It is known as the “autokinetic effect.” This involved a point of light which was shone on a wall in a darkened room which gave the illusion that the light was moving slightly. Sherif then asked the participants how far the light had moved after a number of intermissions. To analyse the power of conformity, Sherif conducted his research under different conditions, i.e. in the first round asking the individual what they saw and then the group and in the second round asking the group what they saw first and then quizzing the individual. It was discovered that when the individual was asked first a personal mean developed but this was later outcast, once the individuals were asked in the group, by the group mean. The experiment also showed that when the group was asked first, a normative result emerged but when the group members were questioned separately they still
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