In detail

Are we conformists ?: the conformity and pressure of the group

Are we conformists ?: the conformity and pressure of the group

One of the costs of homogeneity is that it favors the pressures in favor of the conformity that groups usually exert on their members

It may seem the same as capitalism, but it is a different problem. Conformism causes a change in a person's behavior or opinions as a result of real or imagined pressure from people or groups of people. The individual changes his mind not because he thinks differently now, but because it is easier to change his mind than to face the group.

Conformism is a difficult behavior to analyze and even less to assume: because we are aware that others are satisfied, but we underestimate our own degree of conformity Regarding the group. Therefore, despite the half-century that has elapsed, the experiment with which Solomon Asch showed that it was a widespread behavior continues to surprise:

The psychologist used two cards: on one he had drawn three lines of very different lengths; in the other, a line identical to one of the previous three. It was about the participants telling which of the three lines was the same as the one presented on the second card. It was incredibly simple; in fact, asked individually, there was virtually no error. However, Asch introduced each participant in a group with four other people acting on behalf of the experimenter, and who were responsible for defending a clearly incorrect answer. The result: when faced with the four partners who gave the same wrong answer, within a series of twelve trials, three quarters of the subjects folded to the wrong general criteria at least once. And when the set of opinions issued was verified, it was discovered that 35% of all responses assumed the manifestly wrong judgments of Asch's accomplices.

It should be noted that the experiment, which has been confirmed once after another, was carried out in conditions where there was no pressure other than the majority opinion. Under other conditions, the percentage of conformist responses would have been even higher. As he holds Elliot Aronson, "a group will be more effective in inducing conformism: 1) if it is constituted by experts; 2) if the members (both individually and collectively) are important to the individual; 3) if the members (both individually and collectively) are, in some way, comparable to the individual".

The committees that direct the parties are made up of experts; Partners are vital to the political aspirations of any of its members; and all the members of the group are absolutely comparable. So these groups are clearly immersed in the situation James Surowieki: "The greater the influence that the members of a group exert on each other, and the greater the personal contact they have with each other, the less likely they are to reach intelligent decisions as a group. The greater the mutual influence, the greater the likelihood of everyone creating the same things and making the same mistakes."It is not necessary to add the strong cohesion of these groups around their leader or leaders, and the permanent urgency to reach a consensus on the decisions to be taken, so that it can be said that the groups that lead the political parties behave as an authentic machine to produce conformism, which obviously shows its low capacity to make the best decisions.

But in addition to what was said, Asch's work revealed that it was enough with the presence of a single discrepant in the group, of someone who chose the correct line, so that the percentage of conformist responses would radically decrease. A single discrepant can make the group smarter. We return, then, to the importance of diversity, not only because it brings different perspectives to the collective, but also because it makes it easier for people to express what they really think. The existence of independent and dissenting opinions is revealed again as a crucial ingredient for collective decision making. So dissidents should go from being persecuted species in political parties to protected species.

Juan Carlos Heredia
Social psychologist