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CONFORMITY

Social psychology is about how people interact. Being part of psychology, it


focuses on psychological processes that accompany those interactions. The
topics in this chapter, such as obedience, conformity, persuasion, and first
impressions, all involve how individuals respond to other people and influence
other people.

Conformity is likeness or similarity of behavior and appearance. A conformist is


one who tries to be the same as everyone else. A non-conformist tries to be
different. Most people feel anxiety if they stand out as different from other
people, so most people feel a strong pressure toward conformity to avoid this
anxiety and fit into the group.

What is conformity? What pattern was shown by Floyd Allport's j-curve of conformity?

Allport (1935) on the J-curve of conformity


Floyd Allport's J-curve of conformity

In 1935, Floyd Allport proposed that conformity followed a regular pattern. In a


publication titled, "The J-curve hypothesis of conforming behavior" (1935).
Allport suggested that most people conform to social rules, but some people
deviate from the norm. Small deviations are most common; larger deviations
are more rare.

For example, consider the speed of motorists going through a stop sign. The
social rule (the law) says everybody is supposed to come to a full stop at a stop
sign. In reality, most people stop, but many people "slide through" (which can
earn them a ticket) and some people-comparatively few-drive through at higher
speeds. If the data were put on a graph, it would look like a J-shaped curve.
The higher the speed (and the greater the non-conformity) the more rare is the
event.