Conformity is one of the undeniable needs of a human being. It is human nature to desire to belong and to be accepted by a particular social group. Various researches have been conducted by social psychologist and it has been evidenced that different forms of social groups and influence usually have the capacity to change their members feelings, behaviors, thoughts, and attitudes. Conformity is often relevant when it comes to small groups (Brehm 2002). Its importance comes into play when one needs to make a choice whether or not they should go along with a particular group. The pressure to conform to a particular social pressure may be brought about an actual social interaction or beliefs that a person perceives of a desirable group. In this paper, the focus is on the particular process that is involved in conformity, compliance, and obedience using a real-life situation. This paper also aims to determine how successful conformity was in the particular situation and the reasons for the success or failure.
Here is an example of a situation in which one has to conform to social pressure. I am a board member of a job search committee for a new doctor in a private hospital. I initially objected the hiring of a new doctor who is from one of the best medical university in the country due to the fact that he was not sufficiently trained to treat patients. However, the new doctor had not yet achieved the required experience time during his internship. The other members of the job search committee overlook this fact and focus on the fact that the new doctor is from one of the best university with a good report of producing good students. Due to the overwhelming support of the new doctor, I am forced to agree with the rest of the members so as not to raise any controversies. The new doctor gets hired by the private hospital. However, after a few months, the new doctor get sued by patients and loses his job for being negligent with patients.
For conformity to occur, one has to be in a group within which norms and standard behaviors for certain situations are developed. After these norms are developed, all the members of the group adopt attitudes and predispositions that match with those if other members. Conformity is therefore achieved. The index of conformity then ensures that all members of that particular group are compliant with all the decisions and action partook by the group as a whole. With the conformity, the groups make a choice as one to endorse one of its members as the leader who will oversee and make the critical decisions in the group. The leader who has been chosen usually obtains authority to lead the others. With this authority, the leader can influence the decisions of the group enhancing conformity. According to Asch, (1951) request that has the capability to shape what happens to the group is that for compliance and obedience. All the tasks that the members perform therefore are compliant with the groups decisions. With this, the group often becomes one and is able to work together.
In this case scenario, the social pressures to conform were successful since the member of the committee who initially objected then hiring of the new doctor changed his mind to fit in the consensus by the other members to hire the new doctor. If he had objected this decision the new doctor would not have been hired in the first place and therefore he would have been eventually fired.
The possible reasons for the success of the conformity are attributed to the group size, unanimity, status, culture, and cohesion (McLeod 2016). The fact that the job search committee had about 7 members, the decision of one person would not outdo that of the remaining six. There was also unanimity on the decision to hire the new doctor. All the other six members of the committee were impressed by the new doctor that they might have overlooked his inexperience in the clinical wards. The committee was made up of senior doctors who made up the topmost administrators. For this reason, I could not go against their decision. I also intended to gain acceptance and achieve the goals that the group intends to reach that may benefit me personally and all of the members of a group.
In conclusion, we experience social pressures in our everyday lives. The categories of social pressure are conformity, compliance, and obedience. Conformity is often triggered by norms or social pressures, in any group setting many of the members of the group more often than not always favor a particular course of action in a particular situation. This social pressure may be real or just a perception of the member. During making a decision, the group must reach a consensus. It is not a must that every member agrees with the decision that has been reached but it is an implication that all the members of the group can live with the proposal. On the other hand, compliance often entails an explicit request that is less aggressive. Obedience involves an authority figure where one has to stick to rules and regulations. Failure to which prone may face consequences.
Asch, S. E., & Guetzkow, H. (1951). Effects of group pressure upon the modification and distortion of judgments. Groups, leadership, and men, 222-236.
Brehm, S. S., Kassin, S. M., & Fein, S. (2002). Social Psychology Boston. Massachusetts: Houghton Mifflin Company.
McLeod, S. A. (2016). What is conformity? Retrieved from www.simplypsychology.org/conformity.html
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