Conformity and Obedience to Authority as Examples of Group Influence

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Societies, groups, authorities, conformity, and nonverbal communication. Where we believe we stand within all those are usually far from the truth, however no one will admit to conforming because society now promotes individuality and uniqueness. What most aren’t aware of is the influence groups cause. Groups change the way a person thinks, react, and make decisions.

Group Pressure

Many factors come into group pressure. Social interaction, for example, is a daily dilemma every person faces. Social interaction is how a person acts or reacts based on others around us. Let’s say someone generally happy and excited goes to a festival where others are expected to be the same exact way, however when arriving to the festival the individual is surrounded by glum faces and grumpy attitudes. No one’s dancing, smiling, nor enjoying their time, even when nothing is wrong with the festival at all. Some of the main responses of the person is to refrain from having a good time they expected to have.

Conformity and Obedience to Authority Experiments

Solomon Asch conducted an experiment on conformity in groups. Asch wanted to see how groups can influence a person's agency. He had a group of men incorrectly match lines together to see if a person who wasn't answering wrong on purpose would still say the correct answer after hearing every other person say a different one. The results were that most participants conformed and said the wrong answer to not be the odd one out.

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Milgram conducted an experiment on obedience to conformity. The overall gist of his experiment was to bring in subjects and actors. The ‘authorities’ were men in lab coats and the actors were called learners in the experiment. The subjects were told by the man with authority to shock a person during a series of questions if they got the answers wrong. After a good amount of wrong answers, the voltage of the shock would become higher and higher up to a maximum dangerous target. The objective was to see if the person were still going to shock the actors even after numerous amounts of shrieks from the actor. Overall Milgram found that the majority of the subjects proceeded to shock the actors because a man of authority told them to continue.

Personal Response

When reflecting the actions of the participants of the two experiments, I’ve come to an understanding and relation to their actions. I’ve been put in many situations where I felt I had to conform to what the groups around me were agreeing to, not because I wanted to, but because I felt the pressure of the group as a whole. I felt that if the majority of the group had one opinion, I should agree to make them happy and not focus any attention to myself. When it came to Milgram’s obedience to authority, almost anyone has had to obey authority, weather it would be from the law of from their own home. For me, conforming to authority varies between their principles and my morals, or so I’d expect. None of which is true I've been in several similar situations where I had to or thought I had to obey my superior authorities, even when things weren’t in my favor.

Possible Interventions

Groups and groupthink that changes a person’s agency are hard perspectives to change, let alone avoid. No exact change can come to the group as a whole, however change may occur to the person alone. If someone were to completely trust their instinct and logic the influence of groupthink would lessen and encourage them to avoid conformity. Another way to change the groupthink that causes others to change their behaviors is to (again referring to one person of the group) to not be so judgmental on an opposing opinion.

Conclusion

Conformity and obedience can be either great in some situations, but for the majority it's a terrible thing each and everyone of us are doing. Most of society conforms to the pressure of powerful groupthink, and I am not one to be excluded. Asch and Milgram proved most of us obey and conform, however there are possible interventions, and as basic as it sounds, it’s just learning to act on one’s own thoughts aside from what others may think.

References

  1. (n.d.). Retrieved November 5, 2019, from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NyDDyT1lDhA
  2. BigHistoryNL. (2013, March 19). Retrieved November 5, 2019, from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xOYLCy5PVgM
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Conformity and Obedience to Authority as Examples of Group Influence. (2023, September 08). Edubirdie. Retrieved April 17, 2024, from https://edubirdie.com/examples/conformity-and-obedience-to-authority-as-examples-of-group-influence/
“Conformity and Obedience to Authority as Examples of Group Influence.” Edubirdie, 08 Sept. 2023, edubirdie.com/examples/conformity-and-obedience-to-authority-as-examples-of-group-influence/
Conformity and Obedience to Authority as Examples of Group Influence. [online]. Available at: <https://edubirdie.com/examples/conformity-and-obedience-to-authority-as-examples-of-group-influence/> [Accessed 17 Apr. 2024].
Conformity and Obedience to Authority as Examples of Group Influence [Internet]. Edubirdie. 2023 Sept 08 [cited 2024 Apr 17]. Available from: https://edubirdie.com/examples/conformity-and-obedience-to-authority-as-examples-of-group-influence/
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