Conformity is the tendency to align your attitudes, beliefs, and behaviors with those around you. It's a powerful force that can take the form of overt social pressure or subtler unconscious influence ("Conformity"). It is a change is specific behaviors “in response to real -involving the physical presence of others- or imagined -involving the pressure of social norms / expectations- group pressure” (McLeod). Jenness was the first psychologist to study conformity in 1932. In his experiment he asked participants individually to estimate how many beans were in a bottle. Jenness then put all the participants in the room with the bottle, and asked them to provide a group estimate through discussion. Participants were thenasked toasch-experiment.jpg estimate the number on their own again to find whether their initial estimates had altered based on the influence of the majority. Almost all changed their individual guesses to be closer to the group estimate (McLeod).

Asch Conformity Experiments
Solomon Asch designed an experiment in which each participant had to answer which line was longest or which matched the reference line as in the picture on the right. The participants gave a variety of answers, at first correct, to avoid arousing suspicion in the subject, but then with some incorrect responses added, and the results indicated that participants conformed to the incorrect group answer approximately one-third of the time ("Asch Experiment Experiment"). The experiment inspired a lot of additional research on conformity and group behavior. This research has provided important insight into how, why and when people conform and the effects of social pressure on behavior. However, one source of error was that “individuals may have actually been motivated to avoid conflict, rather than an actual desire to conform to the rest of the group” (Cherry).

Conformity Videos:


Theories on types of Conformity:
Man’s (1969)
  • Normative: Yielding to group pressure because a person wants to fit in with the group, fear of rejection
  • informational: Occurs when a person lacks knowledge and looks to the group for knowledge and accepts it on an individual basis.
  • ingratiation: Where a person conforms to impress or gain favor/acceptance from other people, the intent is for social rewards rather than fear of rejection.
Herbert Kelman’s (1958)
  • Compliance: Publicly changing behavior to fit in (conforming) while privately disagreeing (seen in Asch’s experiment)
  • Identification Conforming to the expectations of a social role, and no change in private beliefs is necessary (seen in Zimbardo’s Stanford Prison Experiment).
  • Internalization is accepting the belief or behavior to fit in with the group and also agreeing with them privately.

Conformity in the NHS Culture

  • Clothing/ Brands ex. Uggs
  • Academic Culture ex. tendency to take harder classes (such as AP and Accelerated), College, SAT
  • Activities, entertainment, fads

Extra Information/Conformity Activities

"Asch Experiment Experiment." N.p., n.d. Web. 27 Mar. 2012. <>.
Cherry, Kendra. "The Asch Conformity Experiments." Psychology. N.p., n.d. Web. 27 Mar. 2012. < >.
"Conformity." Psychology Today. N.p., n.d. Web. 27 Mar. 2012. <>.
McLeod, Saul. "Conformity ." Simply Psychology. N.p., n.d. Web. 27 Mar. 2012. <>.