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An explanation of conformity in the study of social influence

Outline and Evaluate Normative and Informational Influences as explanations for conformity 6577 views Normative social influence refers to performing behaviour, or supporting an opinion in order to gain acceptance from surrounding peers. An example of normative social influence would be dressing like a group of people and saying you like the same things as them with the intention of becoming friends with them. Sometimes you may not privately agree with your behaviour but carry it out anyway to avoid censure and rejection.

From this, it can be assumed that compliance and normative social influence are closely tied.

Outline and Evaluate Normative and Informational Influences as explanations for conformity

On the other hand, informational social influence can be defined as trying to gain information on reality. This usually happens in ambiguous situations. In this case, you carry out the behaviour of the majority because you are unsure of what you are doing yourself.

Due to the ambiguity of the situation, one is more likely to have their own core values manipulated and this can lead to internalisation. There is research support for the idea of normative social influence.

Explanations for conformity: informational social influence and normative social influence

It can be assumed that the participants changed their answers in order to be accepted by the majority group, thus showing normative social influence. Having said this, it can be suggests that normative influence may not necessarily be detected. When asked about what factors had influence their won energy conservation, people believed that the behaviour of neighbours had the lead impact on their own energy conservation, yet results showed that is had the strongest impact. The lack of cause and effect between the intended motive behind the conservation behaviour and the actual motive suggests that normative influence is not a conscious form of conformity.

As a result, it can be seen that normative social influence as an explanation of conformity lacks internal validity.

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In terms of informational social influence, there is also research support. For example, Wittenbrink and Henley found that participants exposed to negative information about African Americans later reported more negative beliefs about a black individual. This can be seen as informational social influence as participants were taking the negative beliefs as evidence of reality. The cause and effect between the exposure to the information and the subsequent beliefs means that informational social influence as a form of conformity can be seen to be valid.

Social Influence

Having said this, the idea of informational social influence should be treated with care. Informational social influence can lead to internalisation given that people are accepting views on reality under ambiguous situations.

This is particularly dangerous when looking at terrorism and the threats of extremist groups. As a result, the idea of informational social influence should be treated with caution in order to avoid vulnerable people accepting ideas on reality through extremist ideals.