Everyone's Doing It, So It's OK

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Something that I found extremely interesting and what is very prevalent in today's world is social conformity. Conformity is changing one's behavior as a result of group pressure. This occurs in people of all ages throughout the world.

conformity_experiment.jpgSolomon Asch's study on conformity in the 1950s produced some shocking results. As seen in the picture, participants were presented with the original line and asked to match it with the correct corresponding line (A, B, or C). About 4 confederates would intentionally answer incorrectly. The participant would then be asked to give his answer. Surprisingly across the 12 trials performed, participants conformed to the wrong answer 37% of the time.

For me, and I'm sure almost all of you reading this, it seems obvious that "A" is the correct answer in the picture. We may feel that we would indeed answer "A" if presented with this task, but is this really the case? Group conformity is a truly powerful thing. It's power seems to come from the biological need for humans to belong. It is shocking what some people are willing to do in order to become part of and stay within a group to fulfill their biological desires. Studying this topic has really given me new perspective on my life and the choices I make among friends. As our friends may be saying "B" or "C", will we have the personal willpower to resist social conformity and confidently say "A"?


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When I saw that video I really giggled hard in class. I would have never done the same as the people in the video did.

I think the idea of conformity is one of the most important topics discussed in psychology. People are constantly conforming to others around them; Asch's study showed how extreme conformity can be, with people knowingly giving the wrong answers simply to fit in. Since conformity can have both positive and negative effects I think it's important for each individual to realize that their actions have a direct effect on how others behave and act accordingly.

Why do you think there is biological desire to maintain groups?

I too found this study very surprising to read about. I like to think if I were in this situation I would not conform to those around me, especially knowing that everyone else was so clearly wrong. But after seeing the video and the results from this study, it makes me think twice about that! I think conformity is a big topic in society today, and is potentially a very scary thing. If people know something is wrong, yet don't speak up because they don't want to be in the minority or singled out, then on a much larger scale it is obvious how serious this could be. Overall, I think it's important to remember where we stand and how great of an impact conformity can have on us.

When reading this in the book, I was quite surprised as to how much people conformed to others ideas, even if they are wrong. I started to pay more attention to how others respond when they are working in group settings. All in all, people do not like to share their opinions if they are at chance for being wrong. This does make sense, but it really shouldn't matter!!

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This page contains a single entry by lauwa006 published on April 29, 2012 3:25 PM.

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