Psychology: Social Identity Theory Essay

Submitted By arianagrande17
Words: 1000
Pages: 4

Discuss Factors Influencing Conformity
The Social cultural level of Analysis shows that conformity is the tendency to adjust an individual’s thoughts, feelings, or behaviour in ways that are agreements with those of a particular individual or a group, or with accepted standards about how a person should behave in specific situations (social norms). Conformity can be influenced by such factors and those are group size, confidence, self-esteem , unanimity, categorization, ethnicity and culture.
One factor that may influence conformity could be the social identity theory, which was proposed by Tajfel and Turner in 1979. It was designed to explain why and how people identify themselves, and behave, as a member of particular group. The social identity theory states that simply studying the psychology of individuals at the individual level could be futile because it is important to broaden the horizons and study individuals when they identify themselves in terms of being a part of a group. Groups to which we belong are called our in-groups while groups to which we don’t belong are termed our out-groups. The main concept of the social identity theory is that people often utilize membership of a group as a mechanism from which they derive their self-esteem. As membership itself is not sufficient for an self-esteem.
Another Factor is the experiment conducted by Solomon Asch in 1951 which is a study that supports the normative social influence theory. The aim of this experiment was to discover the extent to which the choices of individuals would be affected by the majority in an obvious task. This experiment depicts the fact that individuals could be pressured into selecting incorrect choices due to peer pressure when the most obvious choice is staring right at them. The selected participants of this experiment were 123 male college students.
The participants had to do a simple line test where they had to match a line’s length with another line within a group of lines. In the experiment, there was a control group – one where all the confederates answered correctly so as to allow the participants to feel at ease and not pressured. However, in the other groups, the confederates were told to answer incorrectly. The confederates were instructed to answer incorrectly of the 12 trails out of 18 and they also were instructed to answer correctly and shift into answering incorrectly so as to not incite suspicious among the subjects. Asch provided the confederates with answers carefully calibrated so as it would add peer pressure onto the subjects. It was concluded that it is harder to not conform if the participants were completely alone with their answers. When the participants were interviewed, the majority answered that they felt uneasy about their wrong answers but had conformed because they did not want to feel embarrassed or believed that the group was better informed than they were - with even some admitting that they thought they really were wrong and that the group’s answer was right.

There are several strengths and limitations to Asch’s experiment on conformity and it also supports the normative social influence theory because it depicts the fact that, given a potentially embarrassing situation for the participants, compliance occurred as most of them went with the group’s opinion, despite it being blatantly erroneous. One strength of this experiment would be the fact that there was a high amount of control during the process. The participants were divided into various groups to ensure that the confounding variables were minimized. During the experiment, there was not just one group where the confederates answered incorrectly, but rather, there were several groups, each with varying number of confederates who answered incorrectly, to allow for more control from the results because the experimenters could find out whether the varying independent variables affected the dependent variables.
One limitation of the