Conformity is a type of social influence that adjusts one's behavior, attitudes or beliefs in order to match those of other people or a group standard. There are lots of reasons to why people conform, it could be because of one’s desire or need to fit in or be accepted by others and maintaining order in ones life. In this essay, I am going to discuss about the three main factors that influence conformity; culture, unanimity and minority influence.
Culture can be defined as the distinct ways that people who live in different parts of the world or areas, or belonging to different social groups, classify the world, represent their experiences, the norms, values and behavior that they have. Culture can consist of many dimensions, which are certain patterns of how a particular culture tends to view the world.
One of the many dimensions that may have an influence on conformity is individualism-collectivism. This dimension basically describes how people in the culture define themselves as a collective and their relationships with others. In collectivist countries (culture), such as Hong Kong, Fiji, and Brazil, people tend to be more cohesive and the group’s interest is more important than individual needs. In individualist countries (culture), such as United Kingdom and France, on the other hand, self-interest is more important than group interest and family ties are loose. Traditionally, African, South American and Asian countries are considered to be collectivist cultures, while North American and European countries are considered to be individualistic cultures. Economy of the world and countries could be the reason why the difference in the collectivism-individualism dimension has developed. Plenty of cooperation is needed in countries that have a lot of rural and agricultural lands in order to harvest and raise the cattle, leading to reinforcing collectivist values such as compliance and responsibility. On the other hand, societies that require independent skill and compete for food resources, such as hunting and fishing societies, would be more individualistic. For example, Berry’s (1966, 1967) emic case studies showed that Eskimos, who live in an individualistic hunting society, show more non-conformist behavior than the members of the Temmi tribe in Africa, where agricultural and farming society is extremely dependent upon collaboration and conformity. Even though Berry’s research has a strong credibility, it may still have problems with researcher bias and generalizability, as these Eskimos and Temmi tribe cannot represent the truth and reality of thousands of tribes around the world.
In 1996, Bond & Smith reviewed 133 studies on conformity taken from 17 different countries and discovered that countries with high levels of collectivism tended to have higher levels of conformity. Most of the studies were conducted in the United States and showed a decline in the conformity rates of newer studies compared to the older studies in United...