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Influences of Conformity and Obedience Paper - Essay Example

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Running head: CONFORMITY, OBEDIENCE AND GROUP PRESSURE Conformity, Obedience and Group Pressure (your name) University Name Abstract Conformity and obedience are often confused as the same social psychological reactions. When it comes to group pressure as the catalyst for such behavior, identifying these two as distinct from the other becomes even more complex…
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Download file to see previous pages But while conformity and obedience may be relatively easily defined, their incidences in various situations are not. Conformity and Obedience Defined Conformity generally entails group members changing their minds to suit the attitudes and opinions of the majority. Here we must also include the concept of compliance in understanding the nature of eventual obedience, since compliance is only slightly different from conformity in that in being compliant one must [consciously] adapt his or her actions to another’s wishes or rules. While the former has less to do with personality than choice, the latter requires of its subject a particular personality that allows them to yield. Obedience, on the other hand, requires the acknowledgment of authority and one’s acquiescence to it. Thus a compliant individual may not necessarily or automatically be inclined to conform, although studies have shown “…those that conform tend to be obedient and compliant” (Constable, Schuler, Klaber & Rakauskas 1999, par. 1-2). Solomon Asch: Group Pressure and Conformity Social psychologist Solomon Asch’s early (1951) experiments on group pressure and conformity, and ultimately his conclusions provide an interesting and sometimes disturbing clinical view of how humans pressured by the group perceive themselves in relationship to their environment and others. Much of what Asch concludes through the experiments links directly to psychological disorders prevalent in studies conducted over time. Therapies suggested for such disorders and favored by given psychologists often differ, undoubtedly due to what has been described above as differences in personalities that prompt unreasoning conformity, obedience or disobedience, or both. The conduct of Asch’s study was fairly straightforward. Ache showed students in groups of eight to ten--all of whom except one in each group had been coached beforehand to pick the wrong answer on twelve of the eighteen cards. Each card had a group of three bar lines on the right, and one bar line. Students were asked to pick one bar from a series of three on the right that best matched the one bar on the left. Most subjects were told to deliberately give the wrong answer. Asch arranged the questioning so that most wrong answers would be given before the test subject in the group made his or her decision. The results were significant and according to Zimbardo and Gerrig (2010): “50 and 80 percent…conformed with the false majority estimate…a third…yielded to the majority’s wrong judgments on half or more of the critical trials” (p. 550). The results prompted Asch, according to age-of-the sage.org (n.d) to conclude: "The tendency to conformity in our society is so strong that reasonably intelligent and well-meaning young people are willing to call white black. This is a matter of concern. It raises questions about our ways of education and about the values that guide our conduct" (par 7). What this says about our desire not to be different, but to conform with our peers is significant. What it may say in some cases about the role of obedience in this behavior is, according to Berg and Bass (1961) citing Champney (1941), pertinent. The significance of parental attitudes and behavior on the subsequent conformity found in their children…suggested that when parents tend to dominate their children, restraining the children's efforts to solve some of ...Download file to see next pages Read More
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