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Understanding Conformity

What is conformity?

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Aronson (1932) defined conformity as 'A change in a person's behaviour or opinions as a result of real or imagined pressure from a person or group of people.' Several theories have been developed to attempt to explain conformity. One of the most widely accepted accounts of group influence is that of Deutsch and Gerard (1955).

Their theory suggests that there are two types of conformity, these are 'informational' and 'normative' influence. Informational influence is the need to be right, thus when individuals face an ambiguous situation they look toward others for guidance. Normative influence is the need to be 'accepted' by others. Therefore individuals conform in order to gain acceptance from others in society and from other group members.

Within these two kinds of influences there are two major types of conformity, these are 'Internalization' whereby the individual's ...

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