Explanations for Conformity
- AS, A-Level
- AQA, Edexcel, OCR, IB
Last updated 22 Mar 2021
In addition to the three types of conformity (compliance, identification and internalisation) there are also two explanations of why people conform, including: normative social influence and informational social influence.
Normative social influence is when a person conforms to be accepted, or belong to a group.
Here a person conforms because it is socially rewarding, or to avoid social punishment, for example, being ridiculed for not ‘fitting in’.Normative social influence is usually associated with compliance and identification. With compliance, people change their public behaviour but not their private beliefs; with identification people change their public behaviour and their private beliefs, but only in the presence of the group. Therefore, these types of social influence are short-term examples, usually the result of a desire to be fit in.
Informational social influence is when a person conforms to gain knowledge, or because they believe that someone else is ‘right’.
Informational social influence is usually associated with internalisation, where a person changes both their public behaviour and their private beliefs, on a long-term basis. This semi-permanent change in behaviour and belief is the result of a person adopting a new belief system, because they genuinely believe that their new beliefs are ‘right’.
For example, if a person changes their political ideology from Conservative to Liberal, then they have internalised these new beliefs on a semi-permanent basis and believe that voting Liberal is ‘right’.