By definition conformity is a change in behaviour or belief as a result of real or imagined group; it is synonymous to agreement. It is not just acting as other people act, but it is also being affected by how they act. It means that you might even think differently from the way you would, if you were alone. Conformity could be both good and bad, it depends on the situation. If it leads to someone to drive drunk or take part in a racist actions then without any doubt it is definitely negative. However some degree of conformity is necessary for societies to function. For example, when you stop at a red light, you are conforming to the law and to the general agreement that for the good and safety of society, a red light means stop. You stop, even though most of the time there is not a police officer on the scene to enforce the law. Nevertheless, the word “conformity” may carry a different value in different cultures. North American and European psychologists, reflecting their individualistic cultures, give social influence, like conformity, negative labels rather than positive ones like for cooperative team play and responsiveness. Where on the contrary, other societies put a higher value on fitting in or conforming. There is a Japanese proverb that roughly translates into the saying "The nail that sticks up gets hammered down," meaning that it is better not to stand out in a group but to conform. Military organizations are an example of a group that expects a high level of conformity in the behaviour of their members and punishes those who do not conform. There are two forms of conformity: informational social influence and normative social influences. Informational social influence occurs when one turns to the members of one's group to obtain accurate information. An example of what is when a person goes to a posh restaurant and doesn’t know which knife and fork to use, he starts to look at other people and repeat their actions. Arthur Jenness in...
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