Factors Influencing Conformity and Obedience
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Three reasons that influence conformity are the ones I am about to
Compliance with parties:
Compliance is almost the same as conformity the difference between
these is that in compliance there is a request for a person to behave
in a certain (an act of compliance) way although this doesn’t have to
We are doing this so that our behaviours don’t stand out or upset the
majority. In many occasions these actions are too those which are in
accordance with laws or rules and regulations.
People who have positive image of themselves have a good self esteem,
how you treat others can affect how they feel about themselves,
positive comments can boost a persons self esteem and make they’re
aura more positive, make them have a positive attitude. And therefore
work more effectively and be a positive member of the team.
Social norms are what society deems appropriate for you social group.
There was an important study carried out by Deutsch and Gerard in 1955
these found that there were two possible theories that would affect
your reaction to social norms these are.
Y Informational Social Influence (ISI)
Y Normative Social Influence (NSI)
Informational Social Influence: This theory consists on the need to
analyze different the information and different points of view. When a
person is found in an unknown environment, without sufficient
information about it. That person will look at other people’s
behaviour to know what the social norm is and will then behave in a
People need information about they’re environment to feel comfortable.
An example of this would be, if you were waiting at the traffic light
to cross with a group of people, but you couldn’t see the lights
change. You would cross the road when the rest of people crossed the
road. This would be an example of an individual looking at other
peoples behaviour to find the right thing to do.
Normative Social Influence: this theory indicates we conform because
of the need we have for acceptance within society. We want to give a
good impression, not only fit in we want to be a well accepted member
of the group.
An example of this could be the behaviour adopted in a job interview.
We are likely to mould our attitudes and behaviours to the ones we
think would be approved of by the interviewer.
There was another study carried which was carried out by Abram in 1990
investigation our behaviours regarding socials norms. It was found
that social influence takes place when we encounter differences
between our personal opinions and those that the group are
expressing. It is highly likely that we will be influenced by the
A good example of such levels of conformity in the public services
could be the incidents that took place in Abu Ghraib. Many people
would of though, who could carry out such atrocities? but research
Princeton University in America shows that in fact anyone is capable
of such acts if they are in a scenario that would encourage this. In
an issue in the 26th issue of “Science” magazine Professor Susan Fiske
and graduate students Lasana Harris and Amy Cuddy contend that many
forms of behaviour, including acts of great evil, are influenced as
much by authority figures, peer pressure and other social interactions
as by the psychology of the individual. When asked whether any average
18-year-old have tortured these prisoners? Fiske said. "I would have
to answer, 'Yes, just about anyone could have unfortunately.'"
Fiske and colleagues drew their conclusions from 25,000 studies
involving 8 million participants, which explain how factors, ranging
from the stress of war to the expectations of superiors, can combine
to cause ordinary people to commit seemingly inexplicable acts.
Ordinary people can engage in incredibly destructive behavior if so
ordered by legitimate authority. Other psychological research that
supports this such as the study carried out by Milgram in 1974.
I am now going to discuss three major factors that influence
obedience. These are the following:
Y Social contracts
Y Fear of punishment
Social contracts: What is meant by this is when we obey orders given
to us by a superior without questioning their authority. As children
we would eat our vegetables simply because our parents told us to.
When we grow older we continue to follow other people’s orders, if
they are seen in authority within society. This makes following
they’re orders without questioning them the right thing to do. These
social contracts that stay with us from our childhood throughout our
lives influence how we behave towards authority later on in life.
Proximity: This term is used to define how our behaviors are affected
by other people, mainly how the physical distance between each other
affect us. How far away we work from each other or live from each
other. If you are told to do something by a person in authority you
are less likely to carry this out the further away they are. For
example if you worked for a large multinational company and you
received a call from a superior, which was in a nearby office, and she
told you to read a report by lunch time you would be more likely to do
carry this out even if you were struggling for time, than you would be
if you had received a call from another superior which was located in
New York asking you to do the same thing. The main reason for this
would be the distance and the fact that they could not do much about
it if you didn’t whereas if they where in a nearby room your superior
could physically check up on you. This would change if for example out
superior that was in the next room was a close friend asked you to
have a look in a friendlier more casual way and/or if you where
childhood friends, in this case you would be less likely to obey them.
Psychologists have found this throughout many studies that have been
carried out throughout the year the most significant on was the one
carried out by Milgram in 1974 which concluded that if you are
physically close to somebody you are to somebody you are more likely
to follow their orders, other factors that would increase the effect
of this are things that make that person look like they have more
power of knowledge in the subject are, such as a white coat.
Fear of punishment: one of the main reason discipline is maintained is
because the person being ordered is likely to be fearful of being
disciplined if they choose to defy the orders given to them. An
example of this can be the fines you receive though motoring
infractions. Within the public services there are penalties which may
involve you being demoted or even being discharged.
There is a phobia of punishment, this is known as poinephobia. There
are many theories about that say that people should learn about
discipline through being rewarded not made to obey orders through fear
of punishment, as this demoralizes people and can in turn make them
become angry, violent and turn against you. But it is proven that this
is a very effective way of controlling people.
Nuremberg Trials 1945:
Adolf Eichmann was a high ranking official in the Nazi era in Germany
he worked for the SS as an Oberstrmbannufhrer. He was responsible of
the transport and extermination of Jews in the holocaust this was
referred to as the final solution. Because of the job role he had and
because many atrocities committed had been he’s idea, he was known as
the ‘Chief Executioner’ of the Third Reich (German Empire in the times
of Nazi power). Eichmann didn’t have any inbuilt racial hate. He just
learned to hate and did what his job involved to the best of his
ability. He was later tried in the Nuremberg trials for war crimes.
This bought into question the adequateness of blind obedience.
People in general are willing to agree to requests from people who are
in authority i.e. from higher ranking people within an organization.
Obedience occurs when people obey commands/orders from others to do
something. Military leaders give commands that they expect to be
followed without question, this is vital because troops need to be
trained to follow orders and follow them so that if they are ever in a
dangerous situation they can do their job effectively without to stop
and evaluate which would take up time and can put the whole of the
troops life at risk. But this also has its down sides, such as the
events that occurred in Nazi Germany if more people had questioned
what they where doing many lives could have been saved.