Conformity - the good and the bad



The above image refers to a pretty fascinating phenomenon: as human beings, we are free to make a lot of our own decisions, and yet we usually opt to imitate those around us.

According to our textbook, conformity refers to "the tendency of people to alter their behavior as a result of group pressure." When I think of conformity, I automatically associate the word in negative terms. Certainly, history has proven that there are some cons to conformity. The danger occurs when people stop thinking critically about their actions and blindly follow those around them.


So why conform? The book notes that from time to time, we all conform to social pressure. By conforming, we may alleviate some distress by matching our attitudes and behaviors with those around us. This was evident in the Asch Studies in which participants knowingly answered incorrectly.

Conformity isn't necessarily always bad; it can have some pros, too. Thinking back to a previous discussion section when our groups rank ordered the importance of survival tools, conforming to a particular set of ideas was crucial in order to make any decisions. At first, our group members didn't all agree on the importance of different tools, yet conformity (after discussion and debate!) was crucial to creating harmony among the group and accomplishing the task at hand.


I think conformity can be beneficial in school/ work environments where everyone is working toward achieving the same goal. If the thinking is generally the same, things will get accomplished faster. However, conformity can also be very dangerous, particularly in social situations. This is how gangs/ mobs are formed, which can really cause a lot of damage.

Conformity can also be very detrimental to school or work groups. This kind of goes along with group think because if someone is quiet and shy, that person is likely to conform to different aspects when they truly have other opinions. As a result, not as much critical thinking occurs to come up with the best answer.

Conformity was an interesting topic to read about in the book, and I enjoyed reading your entry on it (and I love your picture)! It is very true, and I have seen in my life, that there are pros and cons of conformity. In addition to this, I think it is crucial to first form your own opinion based on the situation, using your own individual morals and values, and then consider whether conforming is "safe or sorry."

I definitely think that there are ups and downs to conformity. I have been in many situations where if people did not conform, things would have ended in a very bad manner. Especially in group decision making, I think that conformity can help yield the best results. But also if people in groups conform, people might not be able to speak their thoughts and they may get their feelings hurt.

I totally agree with your assessment. When I think of conformity, I also consider it negative. People need to follow laws, rules, and regulations. We are pack animals and pack animals need to work in harmony, to achieve the greatest good. There are very few who would argue in favor for anarchy. It's a good idea to think of "Lord of the Flies" as much as "1984".

Conformity is a weird phenomenon. The sense of fashion and style is based solely on it. People always are trying to fit in in some way. You mentioned the study done by Asch. This was, in my opinion, the most interesting study in the book. I think it is so weird how people will conform even then whey know that it is obviously wrong. I would try and say I would be different from that, but you would never know unless you were involved in the study.

I definitively agree that conformity is such an interesting phenomenon. Personally I believe that the reason why people conform is because by nature we are social creatures. Which I believe includes having a sense of belonging with others, which sometimes equals conforming to something that may be wrong but still do just so we don't feel left out.

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This page contains a single entry by pierr038 published on April 22, 2012 11:44 PM.

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