Week 6: Conformity and Group Processes
Most people spend much of their lives in the company of others and/or in groups. Accordingly, a person’s individual behavior often is significantly impacted by the presence of others and their behavior. This phenomenon is the focus of Week 6. You will explore social psychology concepts related to conformity and obedience to authority. Why, for example, do people conform by adopting the latest fashion trends and why do others reject these trends? Why do some individuals obey the requests and rules of authority while others seem to think that the rules do not apply to them? This course ends with a focus on how people’s behaviors, opinions, and even emotions are often affected by being in a group or by having others nearby.
- Distinguish between conformity and obedience
- Exemplify and explain conformity and obedience
- Analyze the impact of group membership on individual behavior
- Identify and apply concepts, principles, and processes related to social influence and behavior of individuals in groups
Aronson, E., Wilson, T. D., & Sommers, S. R. (2019). Social psychology (10th ed.). New York, NY: Pearson.
Chapter 8, “Conformity and Obedience: Influencing Behavior”
Chapter 9, “Group Processes: Influence in Social Groups”
Beersma, B., & Van Kleef, G. A. (2011). How the grapevine keeps you in line: Gossip increases contributions to the group. Social Psychological and Personality Science, 2(6), 642–649.
Se Hyung, O. (2013). Do collectivists conform more than individualists? Cross-cultural differences in compliance and internalization. Social Behavior & Personality: An International Journal, 41(6), 981–994.
Stallen, M., De Dreu, C. K. W., Shalvi, S., Smidts, A., & Sanfey, A. G. (2012). The herding hormone: Oxytocin stimulates in group conformity. Psychological Science, 23(11), 1288–1292.
Discussion: Social Influence
This Discussion focuses on social influence and group processes. As you likely know from your own experience, the presence of others impacts an individual’s behavior, an individual’s behavior often impacts another’s, and individuals’ behaviors often impact that of an entire group.
Conformity is the tendency to change one’s beliefs or behaviors to match those of others. There are many theoretical reasons suggested by social psychologists for why people conform. Obedience is believing that a legitimate authority has the right to make a request and then adhering to this request. Social psychology studies the concept of obedience to help analyze the reasons that people disobey legitimate authority, as well as why people obey perceived authority, even when the requests go against their personal beliefs. In addition, various group processes affect whether people conform or obey in a given situation.
- Review Chapters 8 and Chapter 9 of your course text, Social Psychology, focusing on the factors that are associated with social influence on behavior.
- Think about examples in the news in which people did or did not demonstrate conformity or obedience.
Note: One way to find examples of news events for these concepts is to go to a major search engine (Google, Yahoo, Bing, etc.), click on the “news” tab, and type in appropriate search terms.
By Day 3
Post a brief description of a contemporary example from the news in which people did or did not demonstrate conformity or obedience. Use a theory discussed in Chapter 8 to explain how or why the behavior illustrates conformity or obedience. Use information from Chapter 9 to explain how being in a group might influence behaviors in your example. That is, in your example, how might group processes, characteristics, or functions explain behavior?
- Identify your example in the subject line of your post.
- Please do NOT select the Holocaust or Milgram’s studies as your example.
- Support the responses within your Discussion post, and in your colleague reply, with evidence from the assigned Learning Resources.
- You are required to complete your initial post before you will be able to view and respond to your colleague’s postings. After clicking on the “Post to Discussion Question” link, select “Create Thread” to create your initial post.
By Day 5
Respond to at least one of your colleague’s Discussion assignment postings. Respond in one of the following ways:
- Ask a probing question, and provide insight into how you would answer your probing question and why.
- Ask a probing question, and provide the foundation, or rationale, for the question.
- Expand on your colleague’s posting by offering a new perspective or insight.
- Agree with a colleague and offer additional (new) supporting information for consideration.
- Disagree with a colleague by respectfully discussing and supporting a different perspective.
Submission and Grading Information
To access your rubric:
Week 6 Discussion Rubric
Post by Day 3 and Respond by Day 5
To participate in this Discussion:
Week 6 Discussion