Conformity essay psychology

Thus conformity as well as compliance indicates that the individual has yielded to group pressure; in conformity there is agreement with the group, both inwardly and outwardly, in conviction as well as in action; in compliance there is only agreement in action or expression but not in conviction. Krech et al also make a distinction between two kinds of resistance to group pressure. In independence of judgment or action, the individual merely expresses his opinion which is at variance with the group pressure and leaves it at that. It may be said that Lohia, the socialist leader, was a counterformist in politics and Naiker, the DMK leader, was a counterformist in religion.

In the group pressure situation the individual experiences cognitive dissonance. There is a discrepancy between his own private judgment and that of the group. He may resolve this dissonance by conforming or by being independent. If he blames the group he may resolve the conflict by independence. With respect to motivation, an individual may conform, remain independent, or counter form depending upon what satisfies his urgent wants.

On the other hand, an individual may choose to be independent because that gives greater satisfaction to him as an autonomous, self- reliant person. Finally, as regards the emotional aspect, group pressure tends to arouse in an individual either fear or aggressiveness. He may feel that resisting group pressure may lead to punishment or some deprivation; he is likely to develop anxiety. Under such circumstances conformity may be an easy way out of the situation. On the other hand, the heightened emotion may lead to resistance to the pressure and make him independent or counterformist.


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It is obvious that in collective behaviour the pressures for conformity are very high. This is why in a riotous mob as well as in a panic mob there is a great deal of conformity. All the persons in the group become aggressive and pelt stones at the policemen or the buses; or all of them may rush to get out of a cinema building on fire.

There may arise conflict within the group or between groups. Such conflicts may be destructive and dysfunctional. But conflicts could also be productive and serve a useful function. When social conflicts result in violence, it is necessary to reduce the conflict. When differences of opinion arise the members of the group may resort to violence in order to resolve the conflict. But each society has its own norms to prevent violent modes of resolving conflicts.

When such attempts fails legal procedures may be resorted to resolve the conflicts.


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A group or society can exist only if people control their aggressive feelings. No group can survive if the members start hitting other people, breaking windows etc. This is why every society places strong restraints on such expressions.

Explanations for Conformity Application Essay:… | Psychology | tutor2u

This feeling of aggressiveness leads to aggressive behaviour. When circumstances make it impossible to behave aggressively towards a person or a group which is powerful or is of high status, etc. The farmers with their grievances may attack the Harijans within their reach.

Once violent aggression starts it tends to perpetuate itself. The group of students on strike may become so violent that they may burn the classroom and destroy the library or the laboratory. There will be occasion to deal with this problem in detail when we are considering the problems of prejudice and collective behaviour. When there is an intergroup conflict there is a tendency to distort and to exaggerate the characteristics of the other group. Groups will be perceived as good-bad. As a result motives will be attributed to the other group. This leads to an increase in the divergence of the respective group norms, which in its turn further intensifies the hostilities.

Village factions form an illustration of group conflict which hinder common action by the village people to improve the conditions of life in the village.

Rethinking conformity and imitation: divergence, convergence, and social understanding

Factions are hostile and aggressive groups which are constantly quarrelling with each other. These factors not only make the faction operate as a cohesive unit, they also offer a considerable degree of social, economic and physical security to the members. Sometimes the factions operate not only in one village but across a group of villages. Lewis and Dhillon in their study of village leaders in the Delhi area found that there were no village-wide leaders but only leaders of small groups known as dhars.

It was found that these factions are generally known by the names of their leaders and that some of them have long history. The Jat factions were by far the most powerful and dominated the political life of the village. The faction is primarily a kinship unit and the membership is not on individual basis but on family basis.

All factions operate as cohesive units on ceremonial occasions as well as with respect to litigations and elections. In panchayat meetings the representatives of factions will take hostile positions. The hostile factions, however, unite for some common action such as building of village wells, repair of canals etc. According to the investigators, one of the fundamental causes of faction is the insecurity of village life with its scarcity of land and limited resources.

New factions generally arise as a result of quarrels over inheritance of lands, over house sites, irrigation rights; they also arise out of quarrels regarding sexual offences and murders. Similar forces were found to operate in a South Indian village also in a study by Dhillon , though the caste factor was absent and the mutual hostility between the groups was not great. However, kinship is the primary determinant; families having a common great- grand-father are almost always in the same faction.

Though the majority of the people belong to the Vokkaliga caste, the village is divided into two hostile groups.

Within a faction, families in the higher socio-economic groups are the most influential and furnish most of the leaders. Economic factors are quite powerful in giving rise to group conflicts. The individuals who are frustrated by a sense of deprivation are likely to choose the groups which are looked upon as inferior or bad as the targets on whom they can displace their aggressiveness. Intergroup conflicts increase when the prices are rising and when there is an increase in unemployment.

Another way to reduce group conflict is to develop programmes which change group norms through joint participation. There is a conflict when there are two sets of group norms. The programme must take into account these two sets. The norms of each group include ways of perceiving, feeling, thinking and acting in relation to the other group. This implies that attempts should be made to change the norms of each group toward the other group. In the first six days each group, made up of boys of eleven years of age, who were all strangers to one another, were made to live in their own camp without any contact with the other camp.

In the next six days the two groups were brought into contact with each other through competitive activities. Also situations were devised so that each group not only felt frustrated but looked upon the other group as causing the trouble. Each group looked upon the other as bad and unfair. In the next six days the experimenters tried to integrate the two groups through setting up super-ordinate goals so that both the groups had to cooperate to reach the new goal.

A plan was announced to repair the damage by hard work of both the groups together. Sociogram tests were given at the end of stage two as well as stage three. It was found that the joint participation programme led each group to modify its norms regarding the other. While 63 per cent of the ratings of the other group were unfavourable at the end of the second stage, 78 per cent of the ratings were favourable at the end of the third stage. Thus, joint participation to achieve superordinate goals was found to be experimentally effective in reducing intergroup conflict. Though Indian history is replete with illustrations in which war was adopted as the means of settling disputes, there has also been a traditional acceptance of conciliation as a means of resolving conflicts.

One aspect of the traditional Indian outlook is to look upon all views as being partial and to find out the area in which there are no great disagreements. Because of the pressure of all the members of the village, and because of the trust in the impartiality of the members of the panchayat, the disputants accepted the award and settled the dispute and lived in harmony. Yet another traditional method is dharna in which the man with grievance fasted at the door of the person who was responsible for the injury. This would inevitably attract the attention of all the villagers and the panchayat would intercede to settle the dispute.

According to Bose Gandhiji developed his technique of satyagraha by a restatement of these traditional methods. A satyagrahi is one who tries to vindicate his view of truth by self-suffering instead of by inflicting suffering upon others. His belief was that the adoption of satyagraha never led to the defeat of one view by the other, or by the imposition of one view over the other but to the recognition of a common view to which both the contending parties could truthfully subscribe.

Group dynamics is a field of inquiry with the aim of advancing knowledge about the nature of groups, the laws of their development and their interrelations with individuals, and other groups. It is based on empirical research. Human beings whether at home, in the school, at work, or at play, function in small groups of five, ten, fifteen or twenty members. It was during the thirties that empirical studies started regarding group life.

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The student of group dynamics is not satisfied with mere description of the properties of groups or the events associated with groups. He is interested in finding out the general principles of group life and group activities. Some of the problems studied refer to the changes in the group when there is a change in individual members. For example, what are the changes in the home life when one parent dies?

What are the changes in the office or factory when a new manager takes charge? What are the changes in the government when a new party comes into power? What are the changes in a group which will affect its productivity? In the earlier sections we have referred to some of these problems.

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They refer to the psychological and social forces which operate on the group. Considerable interest has been taken in these studies since they have very important practical utility. Everyone tries to improve the functioning of the groups and to provide satisfaction to the members of the group. He popularized the term, and made significant contribution to both research and theory in group dynamics. Reference may be made to some significant studies started by Lewin and his associates. The women had an aversion to use some meats like heart, kidney etc.

Six groups of women varying in size from 13 to 17 were taken up for study.

Social Psychology - Conformity

In three of the groups the lecture approach was used to persuade them to change over to the less familiar meats.