Factors Influencing Conformity and Obedience
The object of this paper is to critically evaluate factors influencing
conformity and obedience. I intend to do this by researching
conformity and obedience, using books and the Internet. I also hope to
briefly write about relevant case studies, by psychologists such as
Milgram and Baumrind, and include real life examples to present a
well-informed essay. Conformity and obedience are both forms of social
influence which is described as "the process by which an individuals
attitudes, beliefs or behaviours are modified by the presence or
actions of others" Cardwell,Clarke, Meldrum, 1996. This can be
described in easier terms, for example, it is how others influence us,
in the way we talk and act, and what we believe is right and wrong.
There are many ways this can be achieved, including influence by mere
presence, persuasion and charm to encourage us to behave according to
social norms. However, there is also force and silent treatment to
"discourage unwanted behaviour". Rathus, 1990. An example of social
influence is the bystander effect. Psychologists have researched and
found that at the scene of an accident, the more people there are, the
less likely it is that someone will help as "crowds tend to diffuse
responsibility" Rathus, 1990. This term originates from an incident in
New York, 1964.Kitty Genovese was murdered in front of nearly twenty
of her neighbours, not one of them offering any help to prevent this
tragedy. This is a popular study among psychologists, and numerous
books have been written, mainly concluding that when we are alone we
have a clearer picture of the situation, and are more confident
That we will not embarrass ourselves by making a social blunder.
There are many reasons why people obey or conform to others idea. Some
of these reasons are low self esteem, being persuaded as you are
uncertain, a reward of some kind, such as a parent rewarding a child
for Obeying the set rules in their home, or just not wanting to be
different from the majority.
There are three types of conformity, which may help us to understand
why people conform. The first is compliance, when a person conforms
although they do not agree. An example of this is footballers
belonging to a club. Many clubs issue terms and conditions for the
footballers to agree to, usually including a sexual intercourse and
drinking ban before all matches. They may not agree with these rules
but their greater passion is to play on the team so they must conform.
Secondly is identification. This is when their group of role models
influences a person, which could be parents, teachers and important
members of their...