In this article we are giving the expectations of an individual that he wants to belong to a group and he also needs an acceptance from the group.
As a member of a group, you desire acceptance by the group. Because of your desire for acceptance, you are susceptible to conforming to the groupâ€™s norms. There is considerable evidence that groups can place strong pressures on individual members to change their attitudes and behaviors to conform to the groupâ€™s standard.
Do individuals conform to the pressures of all the groups to which they belong? Obviously, not because people belong to many groups and their norms vary. In some cases, they may even have contradictory norms. So what do people do? They conform to the important groups to which they belong or hope to belong. The important groups have been referred to as reference groups. And theyâ€™re characterized as ones in which a person is aware of other members; defines himself or herself as a member, or would like to be a member; and feels that the group members are significant to him or her.The implication then, is that groups do not impose equal conformity pressures on their members.
The impact that group pressures for conformity can have on an individual memberâ€™s judgment and attitudes was demonstrated in the now-classic studies by Solomon .Solomon made up groups of seven or eight people, who sat around a table and were asked to compare two cards held by the experimenter. One card had one line, the other the other had three lines of varying length. As shown in the figure below. One of the lines on the three-line card was identical to the line on the one-line card. Also as shown below, the difference in line length was quite obvious; under ordinary conditions, subjects made fewer that 1% errors. The object was to announce aloud which of the three lines matched the single line. But what happens if the members in the group begin to give incorrect answers? Will the pressures to conform result in an unsuspecting subject (USS) altering his or her answer to align with the others? That was what Solomon wanted to know. So he arranged the group so that only the USS was unaware that the experiment was â€œfixedâ€?. The seating was prearranged: The USS was placed so as to be one of the last to announce his or her decision.
The experiment began with several sets of matching exercises. All the subjects gave the right answers. On the third set, however, the first subject gave an obviously wrong answerâ€”for example saying in above â€œCâ€? the above figure. The next subject gave the same wrong answer, and so did the other until it got to the unknowing subject. He knew â€œBâ€? was the same as â€œXâ€? yet everyone had said â€œCâ€?. The decision confronting the USS was this: Do you publicly state a perception that differs from the pre-announced position of the others in your groups? Or do you give an answer that you strongly believe is incorrect in order to have your response agree with that of the other members?
The results obtained by Solomon demonstrated that over many experiments and many trials, 75% of the subjects gave at least one answer that conformed â€“that is, that they knew was wrong but that was consistent with the replies of other group membersâ€”and the average for conformers was 37%. What meaning can we draw from these results? They suggest that there are group norms that press us toward conformity. That is, we desire to be one of the group and avoid being visibly different.
The above conclusions are based on research that was conducted 50 years ago. Has time altered their validity? And should we consider these finding generally applicable across cultures? The evidence indicates that there have been changes in the level of conformity over time; and Solomon findings are culture-bound. Specifically, levels of conformity have steadily declined. In addition, conformity to social norms is higher in collectivists cultures than in individualistic cultures. Nevertheless, even in individualistic countries, you should consider conformity to norms to still be a powerful force in groups.