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Why do people conform: Conformity is not a new subject. It has been in existence since times immemorial. Have you ever changed something about yourself to fit into a group? People find themselves in one group or the other and try to abide by the group’s standard. Though it is often dominant among peers and the workplace. It has been proven to be part of our daily life engagements.
Why do people conform?
Conformity is the process whereby people change their beliefs, perceptions, character, actions, habits, or attitudes to match those of the group they belong to closely. Conformity can also be defined as agreeing to groups’ standards that bring about a change in behavior, character, or perception.
Moreover, conformity is a type of social influence that involves a change in some critical behavioral features to fit into a group. In some cases, it forces people to act like the majority in a specific group. People often prefer to conform to a group rather than running personal goals. The reason is that it is easy to follow paths others have already made.
The tendency to conform occurs with the gradual deposition of something in our subconscious mind. The group you move with influences you. Knowingly or unknowingly, you begin to behave like the group you belong to. There is a popular saying that “a man is an average of at least five (5) of the people he relates with”.
Generally, it is hard to repel the energies that flow around us every day. A child tends to change, ignore his family’s standards, and conform to the society or group he finds himself in.
Types of Conformity
According to Herbert Kelman, there are three types of conformity.
Compliance is public conformity that is motivated by the need for approval or fear of disapproval. Oftentimes, compliance is propelled by avoidance of punishment or gain of reward. People are compelled to comply with some standards.
In some cases, compliance could be forced or voluntary. Compliance could be voluntary conformity if it’s done out of free will. However, it could be forced when compliance is done to avoid punishment. The group decides the rules, beliefs, perceptions, etc., for the members to comply. Compliance is public conformity, while there is a possibility of keeping one’s beliefs private.
Identification is conformity that deals with one’s identity. Identification is the adoption of someone else’s beliefs, ideas, or values. Particularly someone the person cares about. This is done to improve or develop a relationship with the person. Identification is deeper than compliance. It means identifying yourself with a person whose values and ideas you love and admire.
Internalization is described as the acceptance of a belief held by a trusted person. Internalization is accepting values, standards, perspectives, or behavior from a reliable source and conforming to them both privately and publicly. The urge and desire to be right drive internalization.
Compliance and Obedience
Compliance and obedience are two different but similar things. Although, both are types of social influence. Obedience is obeying instructions from a higher authority. Conformity, on the other hand, is intended to change some behavioral values and perceptions. Obedience can be seen both in good and bad ways because it’s about obeying a higher authority.
An example of this could be seen in the military. In the military, instructions are very important, however reluctant you feel. Obedience doesn’t affect what you believe, but compliance does. Compliance entails adhering to the values of a group. Obedience teaches following instructions while compliance teaches matching values to fit into a group.
Compliance might weaken over time. When people are taught to follow their path, compliance begins to reduce.
The reason why people Conform
Here are some of the reasons why people Conform:
Fear of being frozen out
Some people conform because they fear they might be frozen out of a group of the society to which they belong.
Inability to pursue personal goals
The lack of personal goals or the urge to pursue personal goals makes people confirm.
Little or no resources to pursue personal goals make people conform. Some people follow to conform to some groups because provide them with manageable resources either for upkeep or sustenance.
Desire to belong
The desire to belong to a known group or society is another reason why people conform. Oftentimes, we want to be associated with some people, thereby we tend to conform to their way of life.
Rewards or gain
Rewards or personal gains make people conform. Some group offers mouthwatering rewards for members, this makes people join and stick with the group.
To change people’s opinion
People also conform to change people’s opinions about them.
Fear of standing out
The fear of standing out makes them conform. It seems easy to stroll the path that others have created rather than creating a new thing.
Factors that increase conformity
Here are the Factors that increase conformity:
As a member of a group, you are expected to do what others do. Especially, among friends or peers. If your friends regularly go out to have fun, when you don’t join them, it means you don’t fit in. Naturally, your peers begin to see you as a different person and ignore you.
Unanimity also has the potential to increase conformity. The urge for peace and harmony causes people to conform.
Public opinion increases the tendency to conform. That is why myths and rumors travel fast and they influence people. People contesting power use public opinion and sentiment to their advantage.
The closer a group is, the more adhesive the members become. Members of the group see their values as one when they trust themselves more.
A person with low self-esteem quickly conforms to values. Such a person does things to avoid being in the spotlight.
Culture is said to be a way of life. It has a great influence on conformity.
There are different beliefs and practices for different religions. To join a religion, you must have accepted to acknowledge and follow those beliefs. You technically conform to the religion you believe in.
The legality and the rightfulness of authorities increase conformity. When you realize the legitimacy of authority, you tend to conform to its values.
Factors that decrease conformity
Here I’m going to explain the Factors that decrease conformity:
One of the major factors that reduce conformity is prior commitment. A strong prior commitment will affect conformity.
Distance from authority also reduces conformity. People don’t feel pressured or monitored by authorities. They feel free to do their things the way they want when they are far away from authorities. An example of this is a child leaving his/her house and living where the parents cannot monitor him/her.
Determination to pursue personal goals
The more determined people are to pursue personal goals, the less conformed they become.
Rebellion within a group
Conformity within a group can be broken when rebellion sets in. When people rebel against authorities, they do what’s against the authorities.
Real-life examples of conformity
Conformity exists in our daily activities, some of which we practice every day.
Conformity can be seen in greetings. The ways by which people greet varies. Greetings are sometimes influenced by work, culture, religion, or location. Handshake is an office environment is ideal. Researchers have said that some business investors measure the courage of their clients through how firm their handshake is.
Some people are not the party type. When such people move with the people that like going to parties, they are compelled to join them.
Naturally, some people don’t keep to time. They are not time-conscious at all. Those people might be forced to become time conscious when they move into a new environment or workplace.
Habits are easily influenced by the company a man moves with. Examples of those habits include eating habits.
Dresses and appearance
Conformity can also be seen in dresses and appearance.
Importance of Conformity
Conformity helps people who don’t know where and how to start things. Conforming to a group gives them insight. The power of associating with other people with the same goals and values encourages them in downtime. Conforming to a good group will make you better.
It is easy to adopt habits or behavior you see other people doing. The group you move with influences you and get the best out of you.
Disadvantages of Conformity
Conformity, on the other hand, can be dangerous. It keeps people away from having a mind of their own. Conforming to wrong values and perceptions makes you deviate from doing what is right.
The role of peer pressure in conformity
Peer pressure can be a catalyst for conformity. Research has shown that peer pressure controls about 75% of the behavior and perception of people who fall under the influence. The influence peer pressure pulls out in conformity is very strong. It stands as one of the biggest forces that attract conformity.
Being indifferent about the activities of a group doesn’t affect conformity. With time, you either conform or drop out of the group if you are not cool with their standards.
Finally, conformity is good for everyone. You only have to choose your company wisely. You are influenced by what you see, hear and perceive.