The Psychology of Compliance

Have you always done something you did n’t in truth want to do plainly because person else asked you to ? Buying something after being persuaded by a pushful salesperson or trying a particular post of sodium carbonate after seeing a commercial endorsement featuring your front-runner celebrity are two examples of what is known as conformity .

What influence does it have on our social behavior ? Are there any factors that impact conformity ? In rate to learn the answers to these questions, it is crucial to start by understanding precisely what submission is and how it works. Continue reading to discover more about what researchers have learned about the psychology of conformity .

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What Is Compliance ?

In psychology, conformity refers to changing one ‘s behavior due to the request or direction of another person.

Unlike obedience, in which the early individual is in a position of agency, complaisance does not rely upon being in a position of might or authority over others. complaisance involves changing your demeanor in some manner because person else requested you to do so. While you may have had the choice to refuse the request, you chose to comply .

There are many different kinds of situations where complaisance comes into dally. Some examples include :

  • Buying something because a salesperson makes a pitch and then asks you to make a purchase
  • Responding to a friend asking “Can you do me a favor?”
  • Seeing an ad on a website, clicking it, and then making a purchase

As you can see, sometimes submission can involve a direct request. person asks you specifically to do something and you do it. In other cases, the request may be much more subtle and even insidious .

Techniques Used

submission is a major subject of pastime within the field of consumer psychology. This specialization area focuses on the psychology of consumer demeanor, including how sellers can influence buyers and persuade them to purchase goods and services. Marketers often rely on a number of different strategies to obtain submission from consumers .

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Some of these techniques to gain submission include the keep up :

The “ Door-in-the-Face ” proficiency

In this approach, marketers start by asking for a large commitment. When the other person refuses, they then make a smaller and more reasonable request.

For example, imagine that a business owner asks you to make a bombastic investment in a fresh business opportunity. After you decline the request, the business owner asks if you could at least make a small product leverage to help them out. After refusing the first base offer, you might feel compelled to comply with their moment appeal .

The “ Foot-in-the-Door ” proficiency

In this approach, marketers start by asking for and obtaining a small commitment. once you have already complied with the first request, you are more probable to besides comply with a second, larger request.

For example, your coworker asks if you fill in for them for a day. After you say yes, they then ask if you could equitable continue to fill in for the rest of the workweek .

The “ That’s-Not-All ” technique

Have you ever found yourself watching a television infomercial ? once a intersection has been pitched, the seller then adds an extra extend before the potential buyer has made a decisiveness. “ That ‘s not all, ” the salesperson might suggest, “ If you buy a set of widgets now, we ‘ll throw in an supernumerary doodad for dislodge ! ” The goal is to make the offer deoxyadenosine monophosphate appealing as possible.

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The “ Lowball ” proficiency

This strategy involves getting a person to make a commitment and then raising the terms or stakes of that commitment. For model, a salesperson might get you to agree to buy a particular cell phone design at a broken price before adding on a issue of hide fees that then make the plan much more dearly-won .


This approach involves gaining approval from the aim in holy order to gain compliance. Strategies such as flattering the target or presenting oneself in a way that appeals to the individual are frequently used in this approach path.


People are more probably to comply if they feel that the other person has already done something for them. We have been socialized to believe that if people extend kindness to us, then we should return the favor .

Researchers have found that the reciprocity impression is so strong that it can work even when the initial favor is uninvited or comes from person we do not like.


There are a total of long-familiar studies that have explored issues related to submission, conformity, and obedience. Some of these include :

The Asch Conformity Experiments

Psychologist Solomon Asch conducted a series of experiments to demonstrate how people conform in groups. Participants were shown three lines of different lengths, then asked to select which line matched a fourthly “ standard ” line. When others in the group ( who were planted ) selected the amiss note, many participants would conform to group blackmail and besides select the wrong line length .

The Milgram Obedience Experiment

Stanley Milgram ‘s celebrated and controversial obedience experiments revealed the baron of authority could be used to get people to obey. In these experiments, participants were directed by the experimenter to deliver electrical shocks to another person .

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even though the shocks were not real, the participants authentically believed that they were shocking the other person. Milgram found that 65 % of people would deliver the maximum, possibly black electrical shocks on the orders of an agency figure .

The Stanford Prison Experiment

During the 1970s, psychologist Philip Zimbardo conducted an experiment in which participants played the roles of guards and prisoners in a mock prison set up in the basement of the psychology department at Stanford University.

originally slated to last two weeks, the Stanford prison experiment had to be terminated after merely six days after the guards began displaying abusive behavior and the prisoners became anxious and highly stressed. The experiment demonstrated how people will comply with the expectations that come from certain sociable roles .

key Factors

Below are significant factors that influence complaisance :

  • Being in the immediate presence of a group makes compliance more likely.
  • People are more likely to comply when they believe that they share something in common with the person making the request.
  • The likelihood of compliance increases with the number of people present.  If only one or two people are present, a person might buck the group opinion and refuse to comply.
  • When group affiliation is important to people, they are more likely to comply with social pressure.  For example, if a college student places a great deal of importance on belonging to a college fraternity, they are more likely to go along with the group’s requests even if it goes against their own beliefs or wishes.
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