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People’s behaviours are highly influenced by group norms or by people they share circumstances or worldviews (Stallen, Smidts, & Sanfey, 2013). Thus, if an individual is in a certain circumstance, which is somewhat similar to a certain group’s circumstance, they are more likely to adjust their own attitudes and behaviours and adopt the group’s behaviours/attitudes towards the circumstance.
Therefore, group conformity is defined as people yielding to groups’ pressure and changing their attitudes/behaviors to comply with group norms (McLeod, 2016).
The term conformity is used to illustrate “the convergence of individual thoughts, feelings, and behavior towards a group’s norms” (Smith & Mackie, 2007, p. 310). As such, group conformity is a type of social influence that makes individuals change their ways of doing certain things to fit in groups. It is worth noting that influence in a change of behavior does not necessary require the groups’ physical presence. Imagined social norms and expectations can influence a person’s behavior.
Further, group conformity has both negative and positive influences on the individuals’ attitudes and behaviors. At times, group conformity can be productive but sometimes fitting into a group can ruin individuals. Moreover, when individuals’ views and attitudes conflict group norms, individuals are likely to abandon their views and adopt the behaviors of the groups (Yu & Sun, 2013).
This research paper illustrates how environments influence people’s thinking and attitudes towards circumstances. The paper uses the movie “Fight Club” to illustrate how group conformity works. In the movie, group conformity is evident in many characters, since fight groups are formed and joined by a considerable number of characters. It is worth noting that the influence of the groups is not limited to the characters. The Fight Club’s influences are evident in the society since a number of fight clubs were formed in societies where the movie was watched.
The movie “Fight Club” is a drama film released in 1999 in the US. The movie is based on a novel “Fight Club” authored by Chuck Palahniuk. The main character of the film is an anonymous narrator who is a lonely employee working in an office. He is fed up with his normal life routines and, more so, his white collar job (Palahniuk, 2005). Although he lives in a lavish house furnished with ultra-expensive designer furniture, he struggles to look for the most personalized interior design that will explicitly define his personality.
The narrator is constantly disturbed by his unfulfilling life. As a result, he finds it difficult getting sleep at night. He spends sleepless nights for a couple of months (Palahniuk, 2005). Insomnia’s effects are apparent at his workplace and this worsens his situation. He decides to consult a specialist who considers his situation as not so critical (Palahniuk, 2005). The specialist claims that he had seen people struggling with genuine and more serious issues. He suggests that the narrator should spend some of his time with a group of people who were in real psychological, sociological, and medical problems (Palahniuk, 2005).
Studies have revealed that groups have great influences on individuals’ attitudes and can change people’s views of circumstances (Charpentier, Moutsiana, Garrett, & Sharot, 2014). The care groups influence the narrator’s attitudes towards life and he can afford to sleep after a long time. The sincere agony of the people in the support groups touches the narrator’s emotions and he spends most of his time crying. The narrator uses emotional therapy to vent some of the issues disturbing him and, as a result, he affords to sleep (Palahniuk, 2005).
However, the new state of affairs changes when another imposter starts attending the support groups’ sessions and constantly interacts with the narrator. The narrator suffers insomnia again after the exposure of his lie.
New disturbances prompt the narrator to look for therapeutic alternatives. He engages himself in regular traveling and in one of his trips meets an individual who changes his life. The narrator shortly interacts with Tyler Durden, the new individual, and they exchange phone contacts.
When the narrator gets back home, he finds out that his apartment had been destroyed (Palahniuk, 2005). The reaction of the narrator shows that the contemporary community is influenced by group conformity to derive their identity from what they possess (Todd, 2012). The narrator says that the destruction of his posh house destroyed his identity (Palahniuk, 2005).
The narrator calls Tyler who allows him to move into his house. However, Tyler tells the narrator to fight him as a condition to allow him to stay at his house.
The two men fight and the fight seem to have therapeutic effects. Consequently, fights become regular between the two housemates. What the two did not realize is that other people watched them and became attracted to the fights.
Consequently, organized fight clubs emerge and become popular among people struggling with personal issues (Palahniuk, 2005).Tyler’s group grows rapidly and gains fame in a short time. The fight club then advances into a sophisticated organization that teaches its members anti-capitalist ideologies. The group adopts the name “Project Mayhem” and is involved in many vandalism incidences. The narrator is not pleased with the new direction the group is taking under the leadership of Tyler. Additionally, he is not happy with Tyler’s affair with his girlfriend.
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It is worth noting that “Project Mayhem” has recruited some members of the support groups the narrator was attending before the formation of the group. However, “Project Mayhem” becomes so ruthless that it kills some members from the support groups. In his endeavors to terminate the group, the narrator reveals his identity as Tyler). The narrator attempts to stop “Project Mayhem” from blowing up a credit card company but his efforts are futile. He tries to involve the police but some of the police are members and pay allegiance to “Project Mayhem” (Palahniuk, 2005). The narrator is absorbed in a personal battle (narrator versus Tyler) and ends up shooting himself to kill Tyler.
Effects of the movie in the real society
Group conformity was not only evident on the characters in the movie but also in the real community in the US. For instance, fight clubs emerged after the movie was released.
Many people, especially those working in the Silicon Valley related to the circumstances that the narrator was going through. The Silicon Valley “Gentlemen’s Fight Club” was formed and the members had scheduled meetings once every fortnight for recreational fights (Kasperkevic, 2016). The fights in the Silicon Valley fight club took place in San Francisco. The club members would engage in physical fights that resulted in injuries and bruises. This made them have the macho feeling and vent out their frustrations.
More fight clubs emerged, especially among teenagers. The teenagers would record themselves fighting then upload the clips online leading to illegalization of fight clubs.
One of the most bizarre fight club cases involved a daycare in the New Jersey. According to a report, workers in the Lightbridge Academy made kindergarten kids make fight clubs. The kids would fight on their school playground (DeLong, 2015). The report indicated that the kindergarten workers were influenced by the movie “Fight Club” and encouraged the fights of children aged between four and six. The teachers would then share the videos of the fighting kids with their friends for amusement. Luckily, the workers lost their jobs when the administration learnt of their child abusive behaviors.
Environments highly influence peoples’ attitudes and behaviours. Additionally, the social nature of human beings makes them stay in or relate to certain groups. Individuals in groups behave in manners that conform to their groups’ norms. In circumstances where individual opinions differ from the groups’ norms, individuals oftentimes modify their views to be in line with the groups’ customs. Fitting in is a major reason why individuals strive to conform to group rules and norms.
This paper has used the movie “Fight Club” to illustrate how group conformity works. From the movie, it is apparent that groups influence people’s ideas, behaviours, and attitudes towards life. The narrator creates a fight club “Project Mayhem” that has great influences on many characters. Further, the movie influence is seen in the real society as many fight clubs are formed in societies where the movie is watched, especially in the US.
Charpentier, C. J., Moutsiana, C., Garrett, N., & Sharot, T. (2014). The Brain’s Temporal Dynamics from a Collective Decision to Individual Action. The Journal of Neuroscience, 34(17), 5816-5823. Web.
DeLong, K. (2015). Daycare Fight Club: New Jersey workers accused of making kids fight, sending Snapchat video. Web.
Kasperkevic, J. (2016). Step Inside The Brutal Silicon Valley Fight Club. Web.
McLeod, S. (2016). What is Conformity? Web.
Palahniuk, C. (2005). Fight Club: A Novel. New York: W. W. Norton.
Smith, E. R., & Mackie, D. M. (2007). Social Psychology. Abingdon: Psychology Press.
Stallen, M., Smidts, A., & Sanfey, A. G. (2013). Peer Influence: neural mechanisms underlying in-group conformity. Frontiers in Human Neuroscience, 7, 50. Web.
Todd, D. (2012). You Are What You Buy: Postmodern Consumerism and the Construction of Self. Hohonu, 10(2012), 48-50.
Yu, R., & Sun, S. (2013). To Conform or Not to Conform: Spontaneous Conformity Diminishes the Sensitivity to Monetary Outcomes. PLoS ONE.