Social Psychology: Compliance, Conformity & Power

conformity compliance and power

Continuing with this current series on social psychology here we are going to explore the topics of compliance, conformity & power. Check out the introduction to social psychology here.

COMPLIANCE & CONFORMITY
  • These can often be confused as the same thing (Moscovici, 1976)
    • Compliance is influenced by power (real or perceived) where conformity is based on the ‘subjective’ validity of social norms
  • What is power? In psychology the ability to control reinforcements and punishment influence behaviour was treated as a truism, to the extent there was little exploration of the influence of coercive power
TYPES OF POWER
  • Reward Power: To give or promise reward for compliance
  • Informational Power: Belief that the influencer has more information
  • Expect Power: Belief that the influencer is more of an expert than you
  • Legitimate Power: Influencer has been granted authority by a recognised power structure
  • Referent Power: Identification with, attraction or respect for the source of influence
  • Coercive Power: Give or threaten punishment for non-compliance
WHAT IS CONFORMITY?
  • Yielding to group pressure
  • Often referred to as ‘majority influence’
WHY DO WE CONFORM?
  • To fit in
  • To be correct
  • Conform to social roles
  • All three?
TYPES OF CONFORMITY
  • Normative Conformity: Wanting to fit in with the group and will yield to group pressure
  • Compliance: Publicly change, but may not agree privately
  • Ingratiational Conformity: Conform to impress or gain favours
  • Informational Conformity: Look to the group for guidance in uncertain situations
  • Internalisation: Publicly change and also agree
  • Identification: Conform to the expectation of social roles
SOCIAL COMPARATIVE CONTEXT
  • We need to be sure that what we are thinking, doing and feeling is correct and appropriate
  • Leads to the assumption that the average position are more correct that fringe positions
  • Sherif (1936) claimed that social norms emerge to guide behaviour under conditions of uncertainty.
YIELDING TO THE MAJORITY
  • Solomon Asch (1951, 1956)
  • Conformity is a relatively rationale process
  • Construct a norm from the behaviour of others
    • è to determine correct/appropriate behaviour
  • To test this he needed an ambiguous situation
    • If we are already confident about the correct/appropriate behaviour we would be less likely to conform
CHAMELEON EFFECT

The unconscious imitation of other people

CULTURE

Belgium student – 14%, Indian teachers in Fiji – 58%

Generally:

  • lower in individualist cultures (N. America and N-W Europe) and
  • higher in collectivist cultures (Africa, Asia and S. America)

Explanation:

  • A more favourable view of conformity as a means of social cohesion in collectivistic cultures
  • Markus & Kitayama (1991)

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