Influences of Conformity and Obedience
Normally, a group contains two or more people who interact on a scale with general togetherness aspect. Majority of the groups exhibit behaviors and standards of actions that are similar depending on contexts. Some of the groups often exhibit behavior that includes compliance and conformity. Close to all group types have these concepts. So much as these nuances are common to all groups, they also have different traits which are discussed below. Often, conformity ensures members of the group change their predispositions and attitude such that they match with all within. The index of conformity ensures everybody is compliant to group actions and decisions (Hunter 1999). Ability to conform emerges from group choice to endorse one of them as the leader capable of making major decisions to start action. The people chosen often have the standing and authority to lead others. Ideally the “leader” of the group also possess great influence to enhance conformity since without the influence of a leader, the ideal ends up as less prevalent. In the unlikely course that a member is not able to conform to a group, credibility with others also weakens.
Obedience is the same to conformity with minimal level of difference. Obedience to a group is successful whenever people adapt their actions to rules and wishes of others. The person conforming in a group often has the character of yielding freely to others. According to Asch (1951), a request for compliance and obedience in a group often shapes and happens in any group. In simple terms, a request to a member of the group performs the task that is akin to compliance this helps keep the group together. Milgram makes the observation that rational persuasion and inspiration forms the most ideal means of gaining obedience in the group. The main difference between obedience and conformity emanates whenever the end is achieved. While an individual that is conformed has changed beliefs and attitudes, a person requesting obedience targets specific task. Therefore, obedience involves meekly following orders without questioning their intent because of the authority figure they project.
Conformity, ideally becomes evident through following association elements. Firstly, informational influences arises when the person makes the decision to conform as a result of the belief what others do is in correct action and judgment. Such influence also determines to which level a person reacts to information from one source such that they believe the judgment of other blindly at all times. Normative influence arises at the point where people make the decision to conform to group power in fear of negative consequences attached to non-conformance. Such actions also have an inner compulsion that is stronger, especially when the leader of the group possess much pressure. Hunter (1999) adds the stronger one is aware of norm prevailing in the social and group setup, the more likely that individual is likely to conform to that group.
On the other hand, obedience, points a couple of factors differentiating the two concepts. First, an authority figure in a state often determines obedient outcome. Other elements include personal responsibility and victim proximity. For example, the moment one starts to assume responsibility for any aspect of harm in a situation, they reduce their obedience level and start to innovate better and personal ways of completing a task. The individual ingenuity level, at this point is pronounced as people have the tendency to rethink their strategies and come up with better strategies to encounter tasks.
Lastly, the potential escalation of harm, in accordance to Milgram, is also crucial in determining level of shock in a person. As such, situations leading to incessant escalation of harmful conditions have the likelihood of producing greater elements of conformity and of obedience. In other terms, the person starts to make the realization the graver the situation, the more difficult the situation is and the less likely there will be likelihood for disobeying.
Asch, in 1951 established a classical study that explicated effects of group influence on individuals. The study further stressed the manner subjects become influenced by outlook of the group (Asch, 1951). One specific interest was resistance to any form of pressure that emanated from group thinks. The major source of crucial issues was World War II propaganda that attracted a huge number of Italians and Germans. The mobilization of the group in effect become the strongest pinnacle for genocide and hatred in the well-known Holocaust. The findings of the research were oriented towards majority view. The majority therefore affect the group in a critical area of connection. It emerges that from the majority view point, there is a condition of verbal conditioning which becomes central to element of attraction.
From the study, there are several concepts that become known. The first social proof was that of monkey see phenomenon in which case, the group member, in attempting to conform to group psychology starts to base their behavior on actions of others in the group. Today, the elements have become rife where social media also relies on viral marketing (Brehn, Kassin & Fein, 1999). Asch continues to make the remark on counter effects of group psychology where social loafing becomes the norm. In this instance, slackers emerge and exert little effort in the group opposed to working along. Asch (1951) terms this as “ringleman” effect in which members are involved in a tug of war reducing the pressure on an individual member has in a similar position. The processes of decision making often become hard unless the ringleader is able to develop ways of suppressing others in the process of enhancing direction and conformity. Such groups, often depict collective effort paradigm where members do not have personal accountability in the process of task completion. Additionally, they want a free rise in which case they act anonymously in process of completing a task. The situation also changes where others, more concerned and productive start to slack off in process where others lose working ability.
Several effects of group influence on self are many in society today. In one case, an incident takes place in Richmond where a young girl aged 11 was repeatedly raped by a gang in public. Quickly, a group gathered at the scene and they watched. As the passerby’s watched, a report released later indicated more than twenty people failed in calling the police. A cross examination showed the first people anticipated “someone” would call 911. Worse reports indicated other groups of people took pictures and laughed at the scene. The trend continued for more than two and a half hours. As the crowd, becomes larger, the overall action shows people within the crowd do nothing while others fail to do anything. Such nuance is commonly known as bystander effect in group influence (Hunter, 1999). In most instance, the bystanders do not act in a situation where the group based on ideals of social proof and element of deindividuation.
Deindividuation points to depersonalization of an individual according to Hunter (1999) based on nuances of group collection. The individual’s identity becomes subsumed to group influence such that activities and decisions become engraved in peripheries of the group drives. In majority of cases, personal accountability lacks and the individual sees and does what others do without questing their intent, which critically touches on conformity and obedience level indexes. In majority of cases as already witnessed through the above case study, often, responsibility becomes diffused and people stop problems shelving with claims they do not have any role over it. In such instances, remarks like, “none of my business” and “am out of it” become quite common in instances where people diffuse responsibility. Therefore, anonymity instances often increase element of deindividuation.
In a couple of instances, elements of ostracism might lead to habits that are antisocial habits within the group. Ostracism refers to deliberate exclusion from a group, especially one that is peer controlled. In most instances, in the US, such ostracism cases might lead to incidents like shootings in schools as well as cyber bullying.
The conformity process often follows a trend of self-monitors where people with high level of self-monitors have a means of complying with a group opposed to those with low self-monitors. In a tone that is more realistic, Asch (1951) notes when people with dogmatic tendencies have the possibility to conform to groupthink than those less dogmatic.
Another conformity element to group influence is gender factor. From a general standpoint, women have the tendency to portray great tendencies to conform to group influence as compared to men. As such, Asch remarks sex roles have a crucial effect in conformity index to group influence. The ideal of these social demands mean most women are likely to become communal in their process of socialization. The socialization of majority of makes leads to interdependence through social demands and orientations. Another factor affecting group influence is the individual’s status. In majority of cases, sex functions as status cue where one’s sex is what determines their status in social context. Hunter notes most males have a higher status in organizational settings unlike females who tend to assume a subordinate role (1999).
An adolescent’s life is rife with peer elements pressure emerging to control their conformity index as well as relationship to other world nuances. Milgram notes peer pressure at adolescence is at its peak and that often, it leads to behaviors that might have risky connotations (1963). Such connotations might mean the teenagers begin getting into drug and alcohol abuse. In some instances, peer pressure also leads to juvenile delinquencies and aggressive action causing friction in their relationships with other adults. Certain issues that are critical at this stage are teasing and hazing which can prove to be suicidal in nature. On another level, peer pressure also has positive edge where the other peers model behavior of others who are their minors.
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Asch, S.E. (1951). Effects of group pressure upon the modification and distortion of judgments. In H. Guetzkow (Ed.), Groups, leadership and men. Pittsburg, PA: Carnegie Press.
Brehm, S.S., Kassin, S.M. & Fein, S. (1999). Social psychology (4th ed.). Boston: Houghton Mifflin.
Hunter, W.J. (1999). Obedience to authority. In L.T. Benjamin, Jr. & K.D. Lowman, Activities handbook for hte teaching of psychology. Washington, D.C.: American Psychological Association.
Milgram, S. (1963). Behavioral study of obedience. Journal of Abnormal and Social Psychology, 67, 371-378.