The Social Animal: The Phenomenon Of Conformity

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The Social Animal Abstract Introduction Social psychology is a discipline used by both psychologists and sociologist in order to under-stand how society acts on inherent characteristics in human beings and explain social forces and processes that originate because people associate with one another. “Social influence is a concept which addresses the issue of how and why people change their thoughts, feelings and behaviours of other people through such processes as conformity, per-suasion and attitude change, compliance, and yielding to social forces” (Pratkanis 2007: 1). Social influence is related to many different notions such as obedience or group behaviour, however, what this report will be dealing with is the phenomenon of conformity. A famous American psychologist Elliot Aronson claims that “conformity can be defined as a change in a person’s behaviour or opinions as a result of real or imagined pressure from a person or group of people” (2008). The psychologist Asch’s (1955) conducted a study and showed that when group pressure was generated, people were willing to make judgments based on the majority’s opinion. In this experiment the participants were asked to select a line which had the same length as the target line. The participants who were working alone almost never made mis-takes, whereas, when they were working in a room with people intentionally answering incor-rectly, chose the wrong answers 37% of the time, even though there was no obvious pressure

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