The Influence of Conformity and Obedience Essay example

The Influence of Conformity and Obedience Essay example

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The influence of conformity and obedience affect behaviors of the individual and society. Acts of evil and heroism alike intrigue the social scientist. Exploration of the concepts of conformity and obedience will culminate in an analysis of Asch’s classical conformity study. The dangers of blind obedience will be evident in a discussion of Abu Ghraib. Finally, a discussion of the individual and societal influences that lead to deviance from group norms will demonstrate the utility of social psychology in the real world. Although the prospective for evil and good exist in the world and the situation the individual experiences can activate either domain, social psychology can facilitate a better understanding of those situation and alleviate the potential for evil.
Conformity and Obedience
Conforming is the act of bending to perceived group pressure and mimicking the actions or adopting the beliefs of others bringing the individual’s behavior within the constructs of a societal standard including law, etiquette, or fashion (Brownlee, 2004). Conformity can be an automatic response to situational norms. When unsure of their own ability to define “normal” accurately an individual will observe and take cues from those who appear confident (Franzoi, 2008). Situational factors that influence conformity include, the size of the influencing group, the cohesiveness of the group, and social support. On a personal level, the individual’s degree of independence, self-awareness, self-presentation, personal desire for control, and gender affect conformity.
Compliance may follow because the request is morally right, but obedience results from potential risk to sanctions. Fear of the consequences resulting from disobedience can compel obedience...

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...C. P., (1980). The Asch effect-A child of its time? Bulletin of the British Psychological Society, 32,405-406.
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Post, J. M. (2011). Crimes of obedience: "groupthink" at abu ghraib. International Journal of Group Psychotherapy, 61(1), 49-66. doi:
Smith, P. B., & Bond, M. H. (1998). Social Psychology Across Cultures (2nd Edition). Prentice Hall
The 1960s (2013). Retrieved from
Zimbardo, P. (2008, September 1). The psychology of evil [Video file]. Retrieved from TED ideas worth spreading website:

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