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Conformity and Obedience Essay

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Richard Murphy Conformity and Obedience Essay From the moment we are born we enter a society where it is the norm to conform and obey. From a very young age we learn that if we do not obey then we will suffer the consequences for these actions. People within society have a desire to be accepted and to belong; whether to a group or a family this social influence can change our thoughts, feeling and even our behaviour. So can we truly be an individual or are we pre-defined by a set of social boundaries? ?Conformity is the jailer of freedom and the enemy of growth? (J F. Kennedy). Kennedy feels that by conforming you are giving up your freedom as an individual to whom/what you are conforming to. In doing this you relinquish your ability to grow and have your own thoughts and act on them; whilst conforming a person cannot flourish. ...read more.


‘We conform because we believe that other’s interpretation of an ambiguous situation is more accurate than ours and will help is choose an appropriate course of action’ (Aronson, et al., 2005). This is an example of Informational social influence theory (ISI) (Muzafer Sherif, 1935), conflicting to this is Normative Influence Theory (NI) (Bibb Latané, 1980). NI is the influence from peer pressure; people can act on NI for a number of reasons. It can be for fear of rejection, a desire for approval or to show a level of loyalty to a group. Kaplan and Miller investigate and summarise theses different types of influence and which one dominates when in group discussions. ‘Groups and individuals often shift their preferences following discussion of an issue. Explanations for such shifts typically invoke either informational or normative influence processes. The former refers to influence based on sharing of facts or persuasive arguments about the issue, and the latter refers to conformity to implicit decision norms and others' preferences. ...read more.


The main difference between conformity and obedience is the consequence. Conformity is a choice; you choose whether to follow a group and you can choose the way that you dress. As individuals we invoke the right to freedom of choice; freedom to choose within a society full of boundaries and limitations. When we talk about obedience there is always a consequence, no matter how big or small if we choose not to obey then we suffer the consequence or lose out on the reward. Obeying is the act of behaving in a way that we are told; this can be by parents, teachers, police or the government. Obedience is a form of social influence where an individual acts in response to a direct order from another individual, who is usually an authority figure. It is assumed that without such an order the person would not have acted in this way. ________________ | Page ...read more.

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