Social Effects of Conformity
Social cognition is an area in social psychology concerned with social influences on thought, memory, perception and other cognitive processes. These other cognitive processes include individual behavior as well as group behavior. Social cognition relates directly to behavior and attitude in that it contains perceptions and beliefs as well as emotions about any given topic. All of these terms directly relate to the topic of this paper which is social pressure being directly linked to performance in school.
According to Rosabeth Kanter, the less minority members there are in a group the less likely they are to be academically successful. Contrastingly, the more minority members in a social group the more likely they are to be successful. This is an indirect example of the strengthening of the minorities' social identity. The " Us versus Them" frame of mind is shown in that with increase in the amount of members that consist of the minority their performance level also increases. This is shown in the Robbers Cave experiment, in that with the each child identifying with their group more and more they become more aggressive and competitive in order to defeat the enemy, which was the other clan of boys.
According to Spangler, Gordon and Pipkin the characteristics of social pressure on minorities in an academic and social environment include:
Ø A dramatic increase or decrease in grades
Ø Not volunteering to speak in class or other public forums
Ø Withdrawal from school itself
Ø Not participating in extracurricular activities
Spangler, Gordon and Pipkin concluded that these characteristics would innately influence the performance of students as well as their social status. In order for an individual to ensure that they are a member of the majority they would have to conform to the practices and behavior of the whole unit. Similar to, ethnic acculturation, which is the process by which a member of a minority group comes to identify with and feel part of the mainstream culture.
According to Luchins & Luchins conforming to social pressure can make an individual's sense of right and wrong go askew "social pressure can cause people to judge incorrectly". Luchin & Luchin's experiments showed that subjects agreed with an incorrect answer after they heard it from multiple outside subjects. This also correlates with the Line Test experiment, in which, one line is clearly longer than the others but through peers stating that other lines are longer the subject begins to believe that what they think is incorrect. Other examples include the "nearsighted" experiment conducted by Solomon Asch.
A blatant example of conforming to social norms, are the 21 Bedouin women interviewed by Asali, Khamaysi, Aburabia and Letzer on the topic of Ritual Female Genital Surgery RFGS or circumcision. It was found that the most common reason for this practice was a need to conform to social pressure. The women interviewed indicated...