Conformity as a function of perceived locus of control, reference value of the promulgating group, and nature of the promulgated material

The present study is concerned with the relationship between Riesman's (1950) concept of inner-directed and other-directed personality types, as reflected in differing susceptibility to conformity pressure, and Rotter's (1966) concept of internal and external locus of control. Also studied for effect on conformity as well as interaction with the locus of control variable were the factors of influence source, whether college students or campus-area homeowners, and type of material presented, whether matters of fact, opinion, or personal taste. A three-factor mixed design was employed, with repeated measures on the material factor. Sixty female subjects enrolled in introductory psychology classes at California State University, Northridge, were classified either as internals or externals based on their scores on the Rotter Internal-External Locus of Control Scale (1966). Subjects in a “student” group were administered a 30-item, true-false, “opinion survey” which contained the bogus preferences of “students” who, ostensibly, had taken the same survey on a previous occasion. Subjects in a “homeowner” group were administered an identical survey except that the bogus preferences were this time attributed to homeowners rather than students. A control group was administered the same survey without the bogus preferences. The 30-item survey actually consisted of three 10-item “sub-surveys” containing items of fact, opinion, and taste, respectively, which were scored for conformity to the bogus preferences. (See more in text.)