Why are people so likely to conform? What are social influences on conformity? Solomon Asch conducted one of the more well known studies of conformity in the 1950's. This was a "study of perceptual judgements" where participants were asked to compare a standard line with 3 other lines. The fifth person in order was always the one being tested, all the others in the room were in on the gig. Early on in the study, the confederates in on the study would give the right answer so that the participant being tested would feel comfortable and think that the study would be easy. However, the people in on the experiment started to purposely give the wrong answer. So, the person being tested had to decide what to do. Would they say what they knew was right? Or would they conform? Solomon Asch and other researchers studied the social influences on conformity and came to the conclusion that conformity was influenced by a few different factors. One of these is called "Unanimity". The influence of unanimity is defined that "if all confederates (people in on the study) give the wrong answer, the participant is more likely to conform. Nevertheless, if one confederate gave the correct response, the level of conformity plummeted by three-fourths." So the likeliness that someone would conform can be very much dependent on how many people give what answers. The size also plays a factor somewhat. People are more likely to conform if there are more people giving the same answer. However, this only goes up to about 5-6 people giving the same answer. After hitting 5-6 people and going up there's enough that people will conform. Then, there is also "Difference in the wrong answer" which is "knowing that someone else differs from the majority makes the participant less likely to conform." This seems to correlate with Unanimity that if even one person gives the correct answer, conformity severely drops.
I see conformity happening all the time in classes. People will raise their hands because the rest of the class already has. Even thought the individual may not agree with what they are raising there hand for, they still will. This is such a sad thing to see because it takes away from individuality. There is such great worth, creativity, talent, uniqueness, etc. in every person that I hate to see that be thrown away by people conforming.
Psychology: From Inquiry to Understanding
Chapter 13, Page 500-502, "Social Influence: Conformity and Obedience"