Lesson Title: Conformity and Its Influence on Behaviour
SUBJECT/Grade: SOCIAL STUDIES/ Grade 11 Suggested Time: 75 mins (1 class)
COURSE/Type/Code: Introduction to Anthropology, Psychology, Sociology
UNIT 3: How do Groups Affect Our Behaviour?
LESSON DESCRIPTION: This lesson is intended to make students aware of how groups influence individual
behaviour, specifically by means of conformity. Through a powerpoint presentation, analysis of experiments
and cases, and in general, cooperative learning methods and meta-cognitive reflections, students will learn
some factors that play roles in conformity (i.e. social and group norms, bystander intervention, bystander
apathy, and diffusion of responsibility).
The culminating activity will require students to orally present an in-depth study of the influence of
a particular type of group (e.g. a cult, youth sub-culture, team, club social group, or bureaucracy) on an
individual, the family, and the community. In this lesson, students will be taught about how groups in general
affect individuals, which will be necessary to know because they will use this knowledge and apply it to a
specific group for the culminating activity.
LESSON RATIONALE: Evidence of conformity can be observed in all facets of life, whether one is
aware of this conformity or not. Conformity occurs along a continuum of aspects; on one end it can be
involuntary and barely recognizable while on the opposite end it can be deliberate. It is important for all
members of society to understand the many ways in which one conforms and how conformity affects
individual behaviour so that they can make conscious decisions about whether to conform or not. This topic
is especially pertinent to adolescents as they may not question issues of conformity at their age due to the
gradual transition from concrete to abstract thinking. Adolescents are now facing more challenges than any
other adolescent generation in the past, peer pressure being a major challenge in their lives. Hopefully, by
educating students about conformity they will be able to make more informed and mature decisions during
such a demanding period in their development. I hope this lesson will motivate my students to question why
they behave certain ways as well as to make them more accepting of those who do not necessarily conform
to society’s norms.
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Essential Question Enduring Understandings
1. How do groups affect 1. Human behaviour is influenced by being in a group or crowd contexts; more
human behaviour? specifically, humans imitate others around them in order to conform to norms
and group behaviour.
Strands (as identified in the Ministry Guideline: Ontario Curriculum Gr. 11-12, Social Sciences & Humanities)
Self and Others
SOV.02- demonstrate an understanding of the social forces that influence and shape behaviour as
described by anthropologists, psychologists, and sociologists
ORV.02- analyse the psychological impact of group cohesion and group conflict on individuals, groups,
SO1.01 – demonstrate an understanding of the major questions related to “self and others” that are
posed by anthropologists (e.g. what are the cultural patterns that help to define the self?), psychologists
(e.g., How do defence mechanisms enable us to cope with others?), and sociologists (e.g., What is the
relationship between the individual and society?)
SO2.03 – explain why behaviour varies depending on context and on the individuals involved (e.g., at
work, within a family, in sports, in a crowd, in a large city or small town)
OR1.03 – explain, from the perspectives of anthropology, psychology, and sociology, how membership in
different groups (e.g., cliques, gangs, cults, clubs) influences the individual, the family, and the community
Prior Knowledge Required (the knowledge/concepts and skills students must possess to be successful in
Students must have already been introduced to psychology (i.e. the disciplinary focus, historical
development of discipline, etc.)
Students must be able to write notes as information is presented to them
Students must understand that human behaviour is shaped by many factors, including external factors
Students must know the sociological and anthropological perspectives on groups (i.e. characteristics of
groups and how they impact group members’ behaviour, and why humans form social groups, respectively)
Students must be able to summarize texts efficiently
Resources (for items in appendix, indicate with asterisk) Agenda
Bright socks, sandals, blazer, snowpants Conformity and Its Influence
Word Wall + blank word cards on Behaviour:
“Group Influence: Conformity” handout* 1. What’s wrong with this image?
“The Influence of Groups on Individual Behaviour” ppt and lecture 2. How does being in group
notes* affect individual?
Projector, projector screen and laptop 3. Experiment/Case study
“Bystander Intervention: The Kitty Genovese Case” handout* analysis
“Muzafer Sherif’s ‘Auto-kinetic Effect Experiment’” handout* 4. Word Wall Review
Textbook photocopy of “Darley and Latane’s Bystander Intervention 5. Only conformity will set you
Experiment” * free!
Copy of “Opinions and Social Pressure” by Asch (with section on line
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Stage 1 - MENTAL SET / SHARING EXPECTATIONS (introductory hook for lesson) -10 min.
While students arriving for class, greet them wearing bright socks with sandals, a blazer with
huge shoulder pads, and snowpants (i.e. wear something that clearly violates social norms of
Although students will probably gawk at your appearances, ignore the attention and ask
students random questions for about 3 minutes (e.g. how their weekends were, if they’re
enjoying the weather, etc.)
Finally, ask class why they are giving such awkward looks about my appearances
Students will hopefully respond along the lines of: “you look wierd,” “you’re wearing snowpants
inside,” “nobody wears socks with sandals,” “should pads went out a long time ago,” “teachers
aren’t supposed to dress like that,” etc. (if students seem uncomfortable criticizing my
appearances, ask guiding questions such as “do you think I look good today?” “would you choose
to wear what I’m wearing? Why or why not?” etc.)
Ask students “Who makes the rules about what you can and cannot wear?” Give them a minute
to think about responses and then ask for volunteers to give answers. Make sure to validate
everyone’s responses. After about 5-6 responses, emphasize that students’ reactions to my
appearances were actually reactions to violation of informal rules that exist in society about
how one should dress as well as how teachers in general should dress. Lead into introduction of
today’s lesson topic
Inform students that today’s lesson will be about how humans individuals in groups are
influenced by conformity
Stages 2 to 5-INPUT/CHECK for UNDERSTANDING/MODELLING & PRACTICE
Distribute “Group Influence: Conformity” handout (Appendix 1) and inform students
20 they’ll be responsible for filling out first page (definitions and examples) in their own
words as the lesson continues; handout incorporates element of knowledge,
comprehension, and application from Bloom’s taxonomy.
Present “The Influence of Groups on Individual Behaviour” powerpoint (Appendix 2)
slides #1-4 and related lecture notes (which provides definitions for “group,” “social
norms,” and “group norms”). Also add previous terms to Word Wall. After slide #4, ask
students to individually write down as many social and group norms they can think of in 2
minutes. After 2 minutes of individual thinking and writing, instruct students to discuss
norms they wrote down with peers that are sitting at their table. Inform them that
each table should agree on a specific social or group norm to tell the rest of the class.
After 5 minutes of discussion in groups, call on each group to say their norms. As each
group says their norm, list them on the blackboard. When every group has been called
upon, read each norm on the board and ask students to raise their hands if they think
they adhere to the norm specified. Emphasize that if anyone doesn’t feel comfortable
raising hand for any of norms, they are not obligated to. By end of this activity,
students should realize that they abide by countless social norms regardless of whether
they are aware of their abidance or not. Return to powerpoint, slide #5 (i.e. examples of
social and group norms). Describe any norms on this slide that were not already brought
up by the previous discussion.
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Stages 2 to 5-INPUT/CHECK for UNDERSTANDING/MODELLING & PRACTICE, cont’d
35 Continue with next slide (#6) on conformity and present using lecture notes.
min. Tell students that they’re going to learn about specific experiments and cases that
relate to conformity by participating in group work.
Ahead of time, divide students into diverse groups of 4 based on gender, ethnicity, race,
and ability. As per the “jigsaw” method, inform students that each person in group will
be responsible for learning and knowing one of experiments/cases well enough to
describe to other members of the group. Give each group member number of 1, 2, 3, and
4, (1- Sherif’s study; 2- Asch’s study; 3- Kitty Genovese case; and 4- Darley and Latane’s
study). Tell students with 1 to meet at specific table and repeat for students with 2, 3,
and 4. Distribute handouts for each experiment/case (APPENDIX 3, 4, 5, 6,
respectively). Students should read handouts, and then discuss and record their
experiment/case content in terms of column headings on the “Conformity Table”
handout (table incorporates elements of Bloom’s Taxonomy: comprehension and analysis).
Advise students they will have 12 minutes to do this. Circulate around classroom to
ensure that all members are contributing and discussing effectively.
After 12 minutes, ask students to return to their initial groups of 4. Each member
presents on study/case they learned about, while other members record information.
Advise students they will have 15 minutes to do this. Again, circulate around classroom
to ensure students are not simply copying each other’s tables; they should be verbally
discussing as well.
While circulating, determine whether students seem to understand the basic aspects of
each case/experiment (i.e. the information they are filling out in the Conformity Table).
Announce that anyone who needs clarification should raise their hand.
Return to slide #7. Ask students, specifically those that learned about bystander
intervention, if they can help define terms on the slide before I provide actual
definitions. Validate students’ answers. Add “bystander intervention,” “bystander
apathy,” and “diffusion of responsibility” to Word Wall.
Stage 6 - CLOSURE (student activity that summarizes or extends key lesson
Referring to Word Wall, go through each term/concept and ask for students to verbally
define (checking for understanding). Get about 3-4 students to define each term/concept.
Also, get a couple of examples for the terms/concepts that required examples. Facilitate
discussion by letting students know that if anyone has slightly different definitions than
what’s already been said, they should bring them up. Emphasize that there are no perfectly
Ticket-out-the-door activity: distribute “Conformity Ticket” (APPENDIX 7) and ask students
to reflect on a specific example of how they conform or have conformed to a social norm,
group norm, or group behaviour. Students will hand their tickets to me at door in order to be
dismissed for the day. Remind them that names need to be on tickets. Let students know that
this won’t be evaluated; however it is a form of formative assessment to ensure that they are
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Stage 7 – PREP/Hwk (activities completed outside of class to reinforce/extend learning or prepare for
If not enough time to finish lesson in one period, continue rest next class (i.e. students can present
experiment/case they learned about to peers the next day)
If get through whole lesson in one day, next lesson should be about social loafing and social facilitation
Accommodations/Special Needs/: Assessment and Evaluation Strategies:
The day before the lesson, I will distribute Closing “Conformity Ticket” activity will be
handouts and notes to students with slower formative assessment. Based on students’
processing abilities so they can read and reflections on the tickets, I will decide if
understand material without pressure of time they successfully understood the content
limits of the lesson plan. If students are able to
I will provide visually impaired students with a reflect on conformity this will show me
print out of the powerpoint presentation that not only do they understand what
Aside from the assessment at the end of the conformity and its components are, but
lesson, the majority of student work will be in also that they are aware of the role that
groups therefore “gifted” individuals should conformity plays in their everyday lives. If
not find themselves getting bored the ticket reflections demonstrate that
I will provide ELL students with “Group my students misunderstood the underlying
Influence: Conformity” handout that already ideas in my lesson, the next day I will
states definitions (as opposed to the version spend time reviewing the content with my
of the handout that requires students to write class using different teaching methods
the definitions) than I used initially.
If at any point during the lesson it seems like
students are not understanding the content
(based on their answers, questions, etc.) I will
review the content that is proving to be
difficult and continue to check for
Teacher Reflection on Lesson:
Aspects that worked: Changes for next time:
My hook really caught attention of Include more “check for understanding”
students and generated lots of throughout lesson (implicit and explicit)
reaction, which is exactly what I Instead of introducing 5 experiments/
wanted cases use 4 otherwise it takes too long
Students found the Conformity table a (especially because they must record
useful tool to organize information information about each experiment/case
about each case/experiment on Conformity table)
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