Social influences – Intro to Psychology


There are two reasons why conformity may occur, they are informational social influence and normative social influence. Let’s start with the informational social influence. This happens when people conform to the behavior of others because they view the other people as a source of knowledge regarding what they’re supposed to do or how they’re supposed to act. Have you ever found yourself in a new situation and were unsure of how to act or what to do? Did you look to others to see how they were behaving? Well this is an example of informational social influence. Consider a freshman starting college, the person may look around to see how other people are behaving in the lunchroom for example. Do people take their food off their trays to eat, do they keep their food on their trays? Do they mostly sit outside, do they sit inside this usually happens in situations that are ambiguous, or in a novel situation. That’s when we are most likely to see the informational social influence occur. The next influence on our behavior will be quite obvious when you stop and think about some examples in your own life. This is normative social influence, and it explains a lot of our behavior. For example, do you dress similarly to your friends? Do you listen to the same type of music as your friends? Have you ever tried drugs or alcohol to be accepted by a particular social group? Well if you’ve changed your behavior in order to gain acceptance by a particular social group, social psychologists would say that this is due to normative social influence.

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