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Study notes

Types of Conformity

  • Levels: A Level, IB
  • Exam boards: AQA, Edexcel, OCR, IB

Conformity is type of social influence where a person changes their attitude or behaviour in response to group pressure.

Social Psychology - Conformity

There are many different situations where people conform and psychologists have categorised three main types of conformity, including: compliance, identification and internalisation.

Compliance

Compliance is the lowest level of conformity. Here a person changes their public behaviour, the way they act, but not their private beliefs. This is usually a short-term change and is often the result of normative social influence. For example, you might say that you like dub-step music because many other people in your class like dub-step music and you wish to fit in, however privately you dislike this style of music.

Identification

Identification is the middle level of conformity. Here a person changes their public behaviour and their private beliefs, but only while they are in the presence of the group. This is a usually a short-term change and normally the result of normative social influence. For example, a person may decide to become a vegetarian because all of his new flat mates are vegetarian. However, whenever he walks past a MacDonald’s he can’t resist a Big Mac and when he is away from his flat mates he still eats meat. Identification takes place we are surrounded by a particular group; we change our private beliefs while in the presence of the group and not permanently.

​Internalisation

Internalisation is the deepest level of conformity. Here a person changes their public behaviour and their private beliefs. This is usually a long-term change and often the result of informational social influence (ISI). For example, if an individual is influenced by a group of Buddhists and converts to this faith, then their new religious way of life will continue without the presence of the group and they have internalised this belief.

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