Were you assigned to be a part of a new group at work? Are you thinking of joining a group that is based upon your hobbies or interests? Are you a member of a group and want to know more about the interrelation among members? Do you want to improve the communication among your group's members?
This website on CONFORMITY
will be helpful for those with the following
problems within small groups [this is by no means an exhaustive list]:
How to avoid groupthink
How to improve your current group
How to be successful in a small group
To understand how people function in groups
To learn about conformity in small groups
Conformity is when members of a group share similar goals, have compatible needs and follow the group's procedures (D.W. Klopf; for information about this author, see the bottom of this web site). "Conformity is a necessary and vital force in group discussion. Conformity means to act in accordance with the norms of the group and to be in harmony and agreement with the members" (Klopf). Conformity helps enforce and establish group norms.
Influences on Conformity:
Size of the group: Smaller groups are more cohesive. As size
increases beyond five members, conformity decreases (Klopf).
Members' Personalities: The
less intelligent, submissive,
authoritarian, apprehensive personalities are indicative of higher
levels of conformity than their respective opposites (Klopf).
Group's Attractiveness: The more attractive a group is, the higher the
Situation at Hand: This
would include the conditions and/or
circumstances under which the group was formed. This also includes
the current goals of the group.
are Three Levels of Conformity:
Compliance: This is when the the member complies when he or she is
with the group but denies it outside of the group (Klopf). For example,
Lisa is a member of the Democratic Party on her college campus. When
her friend Beth asks why she voted yes on a decision and Lisa says
she didn't, she is exhibiting compliance [Beth is not a group member].
is when the member exhibits public conformity
but does not genuinely believe in the substance of what is being done
(Klopf). For example, Fred is a fraternity brother and attends meetings
regularly. He agrees with the unanimous vote to hold a fundraiser, but
it is not for the fraternity's charity. He feels that the fundraiser
should be for their charity, but votes against it.
is the highest level of conformity that can be
Here is a graph of the above terms*:
weaker |------------------------------|-------------------------------------| stronger
in private only primarily in public in private & public
*Graph is from D.W Klopf
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Groupthink and Conformity
Conformity is necessary for a group to exist, but there is a negative repercussion if there is too much conformity within the group. Irving Janis defines groupthink as such, "...the power of a group to influence each individual to support the collective 'wisdom' of the group" (Beatrice Schultz, Communicating in the Small Group 17-18). "A group can hold power over us if we find it attractive enough to want to be a member" (Schultz). Simply put, groupthink is an increased pressure to conform. D.W. Klopf says the following are effects of groupthink:
deterioration of mental efficiency
deterioration of reality testing
deterioration of moral judgment
The above result from in-group pressures
a BRIEF SUMMARY of the information presented above. If you're on the ball,
you may want to skip this.
Conformity can be exhibited in several ways. A member can conform by dressing like other members in the group, by picking up another member's signature/favorite phrase and using it when he speaks, and most importantly, group members may learn to "think alike." This is where groupthink comes in. An example of groupthink would be when a member suggests an idea and everyone "automatically" agrees with it (without even thinking about the proposition). As a result, some members may not feel satisfied with the outcome of the decision because of his quickness to agree with everyone else in the group. It is important for members to challenge each other's ideas in a positive manner to maintain reality, moral judgment and mental efficiency. Just because you agree as a group all the time does not mean that the group is making the best decisions possible, or perhaps making the best uses of its resources [the members' minds/ideas].
more information on groupthink, visit this site:
Heather's Site on Groupthink and Conflict
~She's a member of my group!
The more difficult a task is, the more conformity there will be among members; but, conformity will only increase until a certain point. If the task is too difficult or too easy, conformity will remain low (Klopf). To determine if a task is should be handled by an individual or a group, one can use the following questions by D.W. Klopf:
1. Does the task require many steps to complete?
2. Does it have many parts?
3. Require much information?
4. Demand a division of labor?
5. Require much time?
6. Involve many solutions?
7. Involve considerable difficulty?
8. Deal with impersonal attributes?
9. Lead to diverse solutions?
If you answered "yes" to any of the questions, the group should handle
the task. If you answered "no," the individual should handle the task.
Group influence is usually at its highest when members of the group view the group as a source of trustworthy, competent, dynamic influence (Klopf). The more credible the group is in the member's estimation, the more likely he or she will conform at the internalized level (Klopf).
and information can be purchased through these links (they do contain a
minimal amount of free information):
Surveys and Training
~Team survey and assessment training models and MUCH MORE...[substantial Free info]
Team and Work Group Series
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Training and Performance
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****Source: Interacting in Groups, 3rd ed., by D.W. Klopf.
Morton Publishing Company, 1989.
Communicating in the Small Group, 2nd ed., by
Beatrice A. Schultz. Harper Collins College