Social Psychology

Student Learning Program

Chapter 9: Groups, norms, and conformity (pp. 306349)

What's it about?

This chapter is about how, when, and why people conform to group norms. People conform to group norms because of their need to master the world, and the need to be connected by others. Conforming to group norms satisfies our need for mastery, because people believe that consensus tells something about reality and gives us feelings of connectedness. This is because conforming to group norms results in attaining a positive and valued social identity, and in winning respect from other group members. Most groups initially lean in one direction and, after group discussion, the group's initial average position becomes more extreme.

Minority viewpoints can alter a group's consensus when they offer an alternative consensus, remain consistent, have a balance between similarity and difference from the majority, and promote systematic processing. Consensus is more likely to be accurate when group members are more critical and systematic processors as a group than as individuals, when majority and minority viewpoints are carefully considered, when all information is processed systematically, and when norms supporting dissent are adopted.

In this chapter

  1. Chapter 9 introduction
  2. Conformity to social norms
  3. The dual functions of conformity to norms: Mastery and connectedness
  4. How groups form norms: Processes of social influence
  5. Conformity pressure:Undermining true consensus
  6. Minority influence: The value of dissent
  7. Chapter overview (PDF)
  8. Fill-in-the-blanks
  9. Multiple-choice questions