Discuss factors influencing conformity. (22)

Discuss (22) – A considered and balanced review, including a range of arguments, factors or hypothesis. Opinions and conclusions presented clearly supported by appropriate evidence.

Factors influencing conformity

Cultural factors

Bond and Smith – Asch’s Paradigm with different cultures (Conformity/Culture)
Experiment brief
  • Meta-analysis of 133 Asch's Paradigm study in 17 different countries around the world.
  • Individualist societies tend to have a lower rate of conformity (e.g. US, UK, France)
  • Collectivist societies tend to have a higher rate of conformity (e.g. Hong Kong, Fiji, Brazil)
  • Displayed the effect of culture on conformity.
  • Emic approach: took care of the cultural differences around the world individually
  • Evaluative points of Asch's Paradigm apply.


Solomon Asch – Asch’s Paradigm Experiment (Conformity)
[A] Investigate the existence of conformity.
  • Subject was placed into a room with 6 confederates and the experimenter.
  • Subject was deceived that the 6 confederates were participants just like them.
  • The subject was placed on the second last seat so they will be the second last to give an answer.
  • The group of subject and confederates were asked to select the line on the second card that matched the line on the first card.
  • There were 18 sets of cards in total, some of which had lines that were completely different in length, others are similar in length.
  • Confederates were instructed to answer correctly on some of the cards but answer incorrectly for most.
  • 75% conformed at least once to the wrong answer
  • 32% conformed to more than half of the wrong answers
  • 24% did not conform at all
  • Conformity happened
  • Those who did not conform sparked further research
  • Ecological validity: Low, lab conditions.
  • Controlled environment removed confounding variables.
  • Meaningless stimuli.
  • Gender bias, only male participants were used.
  • Culture bias, only population of the US were used.
  • Cannot be generalised to all population.
  • Ethics: Deception, but subjects were debriefed.

Solomon Asch – Asch’s Paradigm variation (Conformity)
Experiment brief
  • Replication of the original Asch's Paradigm study.
  • Except at points of the experiment, one confederate was instructed to disagree with majority, even if it was also a wrong answer.
  • Conformity rate dropped significantly.
  • Consistency and unanimity is crucial for conformity to happen.

Minority influences

Moscovici and Lage – Shades of blue study (Conformity)
[A] Investigate whether a minority group can influence a bigger group through conformity.
  • 4 subjects were placed into a room with 2 confederates and the experimenter.
  • Subjects were deceived that the 2 confederates were participants just like them.
  • Subjects were asked to judge whether different shades of blue-green cards were blue or green.
  • The 2 confederates were instructed to give the wrong answer consistently.
  • The minority of 2 confederates were able to influence 32% of the participants to give a wrong answer.
  • Uncovered an important element of conformity.
  • Consistency of the group.
  • Offered an alternative view on the factors affecting conformity.
  • Improved upon the theory of conformity and the original study (Asch’s Paradigm).
  • Evaluative points of Asch's Paradigm apply.