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By Kimmie19 Jun 23, 2013 1844 Words
Influence of Conformity and Obedience
Kimberly McCullough
PSYCH/555 Social Psychology
March 18, 2013
Diana Dobier, PsyD

Influence of Conformity
There are three types of influence on a person. These three are conformity, obedience and compliance. Conformity and Obedience are very different in many ways. The first purpose of this paper is to compare and contrast conformity and obedience. There has been many studies on the role of social groups in ones decisions. This paper will review a study done by Solomon Asch. The way that this study was done as well as the results will be explored throughout this paper. More contemporary studies have been done on social influence. This paper will review a study done by Bruce G Simons-Morton. This study was to determine the reason for adolescent smoking. This paper will show the results of this study when the adolescent is with his or her peers or if he or she is just with his or her best friend. There are people who will deviate from the social norms. This paper will cover the reasons why people tend to deviate. Conformity and Obedience

Conformity is the way one acts based on the majority of others.  This means that most people when in a group will follow the rest of the group in a desire to fit in.  People don’t want to be viewed as different.  A person will act the way the rest of the crowd acts even if this is really not who he or she really is.  It is common for people to do what they think the rest of the group will do.  This is called the false consensus effect (Fiske, 2010).  This concept has been shown in many experiments where people were asked to do something without knowing what others are doing.  The majority of the people based his or her decision on what they felt the rest of the group of participants would say.  One study was done in which a group of people were asked to wear a sign promoting a restaurant (Fiske, 2010).  The participants who agreed to do this did so because they thought the rest of the participants would say yes. The same went with those who said no they would not participate because they felt that the rest of the participants would not wear the sign.   Obedience

Obedience is different than conformity in that one person can influence the decision of the group.  This person is often an authority figure such as a teacher or a police officer.  There are people who do not obey authority.  These people often rebel for several reasons.  They may feel that the authority is corrupt (Fiske, 2010).  They may also want to stand out from the crowd as a rebel..  For the most part people will follow authority.  This has shown the hold up over time regardless of gender, culture, and personality.  It has also been shown that people follow authority regardless of many different situations.  Trust also plays a big factor in obedience.  A person must trust the person in charge to be obedient to things he or she says. Obedience is when an authority figure tells you to do something opposed to conformity where one does what he or she does what the rest of the crowd, or what he or she thinks the crowd, does (Fiske, 2010) Classical Study

A study done in the 1950’s was done by Solomon Asch  to determine the effect of a group on oneself (Fiske, 2010). The first study was done by Sherif.  The participants of the study were put in a dark room with others that were a part of the experiment. The participants did not know that the others in their group were part of the experiment who knew the aim of the experiment.   They were to verbally voice their opinion on the lines placed on a card.  In this experiment those who were involved purposely gave the wrong answer. This caused the participant to conform due to the influence of the group to whatever answer the rest of the group gave.  The participants truly believed that the answers that the rest of the group gave were the correct answers.   It was shown that the groups answer changed with the wrong answers (Fiske, 2010). When the group was put alone to judge the light there were virtually no errors in answering how many lines existed or the length of the lines. When told that others were taking the same test though this changed the results.  People thought longer trying to figure out what the rest of the group would answer. These people were not influenced by anything but his or her own views on what the lines looked like.  Those who did not go along with the group had one of two emotions.  The first of these was confidence.  These people were confident that even though he or she went against the group he or she was correct when everyone else was wrong.  The second emotion was a withdrawn emotion (Fiske, 2010).  These people felt as if the group would “shun” them because he or she chose a different answer.  When interviewing participants afterwards many said they had a gut feeling that the answer was wrong but decided to follow the rest of the group in the answers he or she gave. The study concluded that even if one's gut instinct tells someone different he or she will conform to the rest of the group answers, even if they are wrong (Fiske, 2010). Contemporary Study

Bruce G Simons-Morton recently did a study on the effects of peers in the decisions of adolescents in smoking.  Simmons noted that smoking greatly rises in a person's adolescents.  Studies have shown that the earlier a person begins smoking the longer they will smoke throughout his or her life (Simons-Morton, 2010).  This study was important to understand the influence that a group has on others smoking so that teens can be educated early to not give into peer pressure. The core result of this study is that adolescents will usually go with the crowd.  This is saying that if an adolescent finds him or herself in a group of other adolescents are smoking he or she is more likely to smoke. Study was also done to see if a best friend or a crowd was more likely to influence an adolescent into smoking (Simons-Morton, 2010).  The results of this study was that it does make a difference in the adolescent decision to begin to smoke. A teen will be more  likely to smoke if his or her best friend smokes as he or she would be in a large group of smokers.  A teen with only one close friend who smokes is likely to begin to smoke in a need for acceptance.  A teen any feel that his or her friend will not accept him or her if he or she does not go along with his or her friend and smoke as well. This is the same as a teen in a large group of other teens (Simons-Morton, 2010).  The teen wants to fit in and be popular so he or she is going to do what the rest of the group does.  If the rest of the group smokes the teen will smoke as well.  Parental influence has also played a big role in the teens decision to smoke.  A teen is more likely to smoke if his or her parent smokes.  If his or her parent does not smoke and had educated the child on the dangers there is a small chance that the teen will go against the group and decide not to smoke (Simons-Morton, 2010). Individual and Societal Influences

Social influence is the change in ones behavior or attitude that is caused by another person or group.  This can be a voluntary influence or an involuntary influence.  The three main areas of social influence are compliance, conformity and obedience. One of the first individual influence that can lead to deviance is the core social motives.  A person may deviate for self-enhancement.  A person wants to feel good about his or her self and if this means defy the crowd he or she may do this.  It is also shown that people deviate from the crowd for a rush.  They often will do something dangerous to feel that they are better than the crowd.  An example of this is a person facing their back to the crown in an elevator.  the person does this to be different and to stand out.  This can be dangerous if someone in the elevator tries to hurt the person with his or her back turn. Another example of this is a person breaking traffic laws.  A person may speed or run a stop sign and get into an accident by not following the law and deviating for any reason.   Another reason is control.  A person want to be the one in control of any given situation.  By deviating from the crowd a person may feel as if he or she can change the rest of the crowd and thus be the one in control.  A small group of people may deviate from the dominant group.  This is caused by the small group not agreeing with the opinions of the larger group.  Those in the small group may be following the norms of the small group to fit into that one group.  A person may have a friend in the small group or he or she may feel that they can have a bigger influence or more control in the smaller group.  The smaller group of deviants may feel as those that group can really make a change in society and may just be determined to change a law or a norm that this group does not like.

In conclusion, this paper has shown fist that conformity and obedience are fueled by different things. Conformity is driven by what the rest of the crowd is doing. Obedience is fueled by one person who is an authority figure within the group. This paper has also shown through a classical study that even when the answers were clearly wrong a person will still go along with the crowd to fit in to the group. This is even present if the person knows the answer is wrong. The second study has shown that a teen is likely to smoke if his or her peers smoke but is more likely to smoke if his or her best friend smokes. The last item that this paper has shown is that there are various reasons for a person to deviate from the crowd.

Fiske, S. T. (2010). Social beings: Core motives in social psychology (2nd ed.). Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Son, Inc. Simons-morton, B., & Farhat, T. (2010). Recent findings on peer group influences on adolescent smoking. Journal of Primary Prevention, 31(4), 191-208. doi:

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