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Individual Influences of Conformity and Obedience Essay

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Updated: Mar 14th, 2020

An individual confronted by certain circumstances or explicit social forces may the struggle to comprehend them and respond accordingly. Such a response may emanate from external sources or private judgment. The study on individual influence assumes that in nature, the state of orderliness exists. On the same note, it may also be discovered and described even though it can be understood.

In a single day, an individual in society naturally performs myriad of duties that may occur in one way or another impact the community positively or negatively. It is against this background that sociologists have come up with theoretical studies based on empirical research that tends to address the concepts of obedience and conformity.

The latter argue that the integration and coordination of these actions in social l structure aim at seeking orderliness in society. By definition, conformity refers to the act of yielding to either real or perceived pressure. The pressure may emanate from various sources.

For instance, individuals or groups may be potential sources of pressure that may force individuals to conform. On the other hand, yielding to authority and complying with instructions or orders is an act of obedience. In studying individual influences, conformity and obedience, an individual’s conscience are of sociological value since it can potentially inhibit and restrain as well as cause an individual to conform and obey.

This essay offers a succinct exploration and analysis of individual influences on conformity and obedience. I am comparing and contrasting the concepts of conformity and obedience. Obedience is an actor response to individual orders from a higher authority. As such, an individual may opt to question or not question at all a given order.

Hence, obedience may not necessarily imply concurring with requests or set rules and regulations without seeking further clarification. This characteristic permits individuals to follow instructions and guidelines provided by laws in school, homes and other social places. On the other hand, conformity is an act of fulfilling the desire of other people in a group to please them.


Both aspects are sociological, behavioral patterns depicted by human beings in any given society. Moreover, for these aspects to be exhibited in an individual, there must be a change, to respond to the expectations of society. Psychologists suggest that such traits are common in human beings largely because they need to live as a group.

In the process of enhancing individual identity, people fall prey of these traits (Cushman, Young & Hauser 2006). There is a tendency for these traits to seek comfort and overcome the consequences derived from denial and disobedience. For instance, an individual may opt to avoid punishment, while conformity keeps an individual off from unpleasant feeling of indifference.

These traits regulate the behavior of people in the e-society by ensuring that personal outlooks do not maneuver societal norms. For instance, when an individual fails to obey or conform to a group norm, they are disapproved, and this makes them feel like outcasts. Vividly, these traits are closely related to compliance with what is perceived as right in a group.


Although the two characteristics are necessary and vital in an individual and hence group behavior, they are similar in one way or another among groups. In this case, there exist credible differences in the two aspects. However, quite often, they have been misconstrued to connote the same due to their closeness in meaning.

According to psychologists, conformity involves yielding to pressures of groups or peers (Cushman, Young & Hauser 2006). An individual is compelled to act in a certain way to please his colleagues. By fact, such a person adheres to the tastes and likes of those whom he or she is close to such friends and other acquaintances.

Conformity that comes out of an individual may make a social group feel happy. On the other hand, obedience is an act of acting upon instructions in the desired way. Also, obedience aligns with authority from a superior figure such an as parents, teachers or administrators.

It is imperative to note that an individual obeys to overcome unpleasant outcomes such as punishments or unfavorable results. Nevertheless, conformity is out of an individual’s choice, and it is voluntary to fit in a particular social group. In terms of influence, obedience comes about as a result of minority convincing the majority on the way to work out certain issues.

In contrast to this, conformity involves the minority being influenced by the majority view. It is worth to note that this principle is not applicable at all times since either of the party might affect the other. Additionally, obedient has a specific demand unlike conformity, whose needs are implicit.

Classical study on the effect of group influence on the self

Social groups influence people’s behavior and attitudes. Sociologists confirm that social influences affect peers or people in the same group due to conformity. Research done indicates that individuals are likely to lose their identity to conform to the desires of other people in a social group.

For example, when people move to a strange environment, they change their character to match to those of people they find there. For this reason, they use conformity as a tool to enhance them adjusts new environments. Social conformity may lead a person into unethical deeds hence ruin his reputation.

Social influencing institutions like schools and churches assassinate individuals’ character and deny them their identity. A comparative study done on social groups illustrated that individual feeling and actions are highly dependent on social pressure.

It’s vivid that human being a is a social creature who seeks fitness for comfort and enhancing belongingness. Though people have different perspectives toward certain characters, there are those who have conformed to undesired traits to avoid disapproval from friends and acquaintances. A good example is where teenagers have indulged themselves in drug abuse and sexual immorality because their colleagues are doing the same.

Some of them feel neglected and as outcasts hence intrude into indecent acts to be compatible with the current social settings. Some people would change their identities due to the continued change of social institutions. For instance, obedience may be experimented not out of individuals will build because of pressure from higher author rate. To recap it all, social influence alters and denatures the self of individuals in the society.

Analyze a contemporary example

Group influence is important in determining how individuals behave or conform to society. Generally, a group consists of two or more individuals sharing a common goal, and is adaptable, influence each other, perform interdependent tasks and affect one another in a particular way. In a group, individuals regard each other as one and share collective influence.

Research studies have indicated that such influences are guided by size. Social influence in any wanes or waxes depending on size. An individual in a group situation gets influenced to perform a task due or to confirm due to the presence of others. The influence of the presence of other individuals affects a person to improve their accuracy and speed of tackling issues.

The critical dynamic of social facilitation is found in the groups’ interpersonal interaction and whereby an individual feels represented and confident (Navarick, 2007). It also works well in heedful interrelating. In this sense, in the presence of others, an individual in a group is under pressure to follow instructions and carries out tasks as required.

Feeling the support from each member creates confidence while maintaining an environment of mutual respect and trust. The mere presence of others causes arousal which according to Chen and Lakshminarayanan (2006), it enhances an individual’s ability to conform and obey. For instance, a student or a child who performed in the presence of a supportive audience would become tense or excited and as a result get, energized to carry out their task well.

Analyze individual and societal influences

In sociology, deviance refers to behavioral pattern or action that violate formally accepted rules or norms. The latter are paradigms and predictable behavioral standards in society. Such behavior includes criminal behaviors such as copyrighting and theft.

Furthermore, social loafing and facilitation arouses people and enable them to ditto fuse their responsibility and through these groups accomplish tremendous things due to the diminishing of normal inhibitions. However, social facilitation and social loafing combined may trigger deindividuation, and this may have other startling results.

Individuals tend to lose sensation in the presence of others and cause destructive social explosions such as lynching, riots, and acts of brutality. Others may demonstrate impulsive self-gratification through thefts, orgies and group vandalism (Chen & Lakshminarayanan, 2006). Also, through group influence, individuals who have lost their senses and restraint may cause disruptions to normal activities due to the excitement of something bigger than one’s self.

Factors such as group size and physical anonymity play a role in arousing and causing distracting activities from groups such as dancing, clapping, chanting and group shouting. De-individuation disconnects behavior from attitude and causes self-consciousness of individuals in a group to diminish. It replaces self-awareness and is triggered by a combination of high-level social arousal and diffused responsibility.

Individuals, in this case, take advantage of being physically anonymous, lose self-restraint and exhibit a positive or negative response to an immediate situation. Researchers have identified that the interactions and opinions polarize the groups and influence their behavior in an everyday case and how they think.


To sum up, obedience and conformity are sociological aspects depicted by human beings in society. As already emphasized in the text, these aspects, as exhibited by individuals, are crucial in initiating changes that can positively respond to expectations of any given society. In studying individual influences of conformity and obedience, an individual’s conscience is of sociological value since it is capable of inhibiting, restraining as well as causing an individual to conform and obey.

Reference list

Chen, M. K. & Lakshminarayanan, L. R. (2006). How basic are behavioral biases? Evidence from Capuchin Monkey trading behavior. Journal of Political Economy. 114: 517.

Cushman, F., Young, L. & Hauser, M. (2006). The Role of conscious reasoning and intuition in moral judgment. Psychological Science. 17: 1082.

Navarick, D. J. (2007). Attenuation and enhancement of compliance with experimental demand characteristics. The Psychological Record. 57, 501-515.

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