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Conformity and Culture
Transcript of Conformity and Culture
Collectivist societies value family and group goals above the needs or desires of the individual.
Individualist vs. collectivist culture
Aim: To see how the level of conformity varies in two different cultures.
Method: Berry studied the Temne people of Sierra Leone and the Inuit people of Canada to study the level of conformity in those two different cultures.
Results: It was found that the Temne people of Sierra Leone conform significantly more than the Inuit people of Canada.
Conclusion: Berry explained these results in terms of the significant different economic practices. The Temne people are a collectivist culture; they survive on single crop harvested by all those in the community. This form of survival requires cooperation, and this is why Temne culture highly values agreement and community achievements. This is considerably different for the Inuit people of Canada, where the economy is strongly based on hunting and gathering on an individual level.
Conformity is changing one’s thoughts, feelings or behaviour in order to be in agreement with an individual or social group.
Individualist societies idolize personal achievement, resulting in a strong sense of competition.
In an individualist culture, such as America, conformity is often seen as a negative trait. Someone from an individualist culture is less likely to conform due to the fact that individualist cultures value independence and personal achievement.
Someone from a collectivist culture is more likely to conform because collectivist cultures value group efforts and achievements as a community rather than an individual.
Evaluation Berry 1967
The same study was conducted in two completely different places, and there were contrasting results found. Where there was a high level of conformity in the Temne people, there was a low level of conformity in the Inuit people. This is varied as the Temne people are a collectivist culture, and the Inuit people are an individualist culture. There is not cultural bias in the study, as the study was done in various cultures.
Hofstede's Conformity Study 1980
Aim: To investigate how culture affected conformity
Hypothesis: individualist cultures are less likely to conform than collectivist cultures
Method: 88,000 participants company employees from 67 different countries were asked to do the line judgement test (similar to Asch's study)
Results: It was found that those from collectivist cultures
conformed vastly more throughout the experiment.
Conclusion: This study suggests that collectivist cultures
conform more than individualist cultures
Evaluation of Hofstede's study
It cannot be fully due to culture as to why people conform, perhaps it is a contribution, however it conformity cannot be fully explained based on how someone was raised. “An enduring problem in cross-cultural psychology concerns how many human values there are, what values do in terms of predicting or explaining behaviour, and how they should be used in any psychological orientation that attempts to explain cultural variations in behaviour.” – John Berry