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Conformity Case

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From the time we are little we are taught to uphold and value various traditions and

beliefs. Some hold religious significance, others come from cultural or societal norms. As

children, we are taught to color within the lines, go with the flow and do as we are told. It

becomes quite obvious to us that agreeing with popular opinion is often easier than defending

opinions that go against the grain. To stand out in a crowd is to stand alone and our desire to

belong can be stronger than our desire to be autonomous. Charles Dudley Warner said, "We are

half ruined by conformity; but we should be wholly ruined without it." Also known as majority

influence, Conformity is described as a type of social influence involving a change in belief or

behavior in order to fit in with a group. The changes made to behavior or belief are a result of

real (involving the physical presence of others) or imagined (involving the pressure of social

norms / expectations) pressure from a group. There are different types of conformity as well as

various motivations to conform. I will explore these as forms and motives as well as research and

experiments regarding our propensity to conform.

How other people perceive us helps us create our self-concept. How we behave socially also serves as a means of fulfilling some of our most basic needs such as the need for protection or the need to feel a sense of belonging. Depending on the given situation, an individual's behavior often varies in accordance with the appropriate behavior for that particular context. There are four types, each caused by different motivations that lead us to conform. The first type of conformity is compliance. A person is driven to comply when there is either a reward in doing so or a threat of punishment for not complying. The compliance will last as long as the reward is being received or as long as the threat persists. The individual requires very little confirmation or persuasion that what they comply with is in fact "good" or "correct". Typically, people are more likely to comply when they are in a good mood. An act of compliance to someone or some group that has power over an individual is a type of conformity known as obedience. Our attraction and or admiration for an individual of influence is what drives us to conform through identification. In an effort to establish a fulfilling relationship with the admired individual one will alter their opinions and or behaviors accordingly.



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