Social influence: A comparison between the absolute and relative component of majority size in their effects on conformity
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This study investigates the effects of two different constructions of majority size on the level of conformity., which is defined as making the same choice as the majority. An absolute and a relative majority size component were examined separately and simultaneously, and subsequently evaluated in terms of model fit. Solomon Asch’s classical line judgements experiments (1951, 1955, 1956) are taken as starting point and multiple theories are employed to derive a prediction for both an absolute and a relative effect of majority size on conformity. An experimental design was used in which 192 participants answered 30 binary (A, B) questions. In contrast to the control condition, the participants in the social influence condition were notified at each question about the choices of prior actors. We find evidence for a positive effect of majority size on conformity, for both the absolute and the relative term. However, the relative majority size has proved to be of better model fit and therefore to be more important in determining the level of conformity than the absolute term. Implications of these findings are pointed out, limitations that merit acknowledgement are discussed and suggestion for future conformity research are given.