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Conformity and Obedience – How the Presence of Others Affects Individual Behavior (PSY, SOC)

by Tarry Ahuja, MD
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    00:00 The last kind of point that we are going to talk about is conformity and obedience.

    00:05 So, conformity refers to the phenomenon of adjusting one’s behavior and thinking based on the behavior and thinking of others.

    00:11 Now, you might say this sounds a little lot like what we already talked about and there is some overlap. But here, it’s much more implied.

    00:18 So, it’s not that somebody’s pressuring you into making this decision.

    00:21 It’s more of you adjusting your behavior based on the behavior or thinking of others.

    00:26 And here are some of the factors.

    00:29 and you’ll notice again there’s a lot of overlap here and that’s not a coincindence, it’s because they are related.

    00:34 So things like group size, a larger group brings more conformity.

    00:37 So you think of a sporting event again and the way people act or dress at the sporting event makes you wanna dress that same way.

    00:45 Unanimity is a strong pressure not to descent.

    00:48 If everybody at that game is wearing a jersey for your team and you’re the only one not wearing one, you kind of look like a dummy, right? So you’ll end up saying, well, I better wear one ‘coz I don’t want to stick out.

    00:59 And then finally is cohesion.

    01:01 So individuals will agree with another individual with whom he identifies.

    01:04 So if you feel like I really relate and agree with that person on most things, well then I’m probably going to conform and be obedient and do the same thing because typically speaking, I feel the same with that person.

    01:20 Now, here are three other factors that we are going to mention that can impact the level of conformity and obedience.

    01:27 Now, if you are a higher status individual, you tend to have more influence.

    01:32 So let’s go to the high school analogy and if you’re a senior at high school, You’re the cool guy or cool girl.

    01:39 and you are able to do things and you will influence those who are young and look up to you.

    01:44 Let’s take a look at let’s say sporting figures.

    01:46 What a sporty individual does or a popstar does that has a lot of influence on those around you because of their level of status.

    01:54 Accountability, conform more when they are more visible versus closed doors.

    02:00 So if you are an individual who is out and about and people see you and you have to account for things. So think about your boss for example.

    02:10 Now your boss has a lot of people that he directs and manages.

    02:14 and when they’re in front of you they might act a certain way.

    02:17 And you act a certain way, but when they’re behind closed doors or you’re behind closed doors, you act a lot differently.

    02:23 You can even relate this to discussions that we’ve had about being our different selves.

    02:27 And when you’re your work self, you’re highly accountable versus when you’re with your friends, you’re less accountable and you can act differently between being visible and in this case, I’m saying being with friends or the people you’re familiar with is the closed door inside.

    02:40 The other is if you have prior commitments. Are you a public figure? So if you are a Supreme Court judge or if you’re a politician, you have this persona, you have to be obedient and you have to conform to social norms.

    02:55 And if on the weekends, you happen to dress up as a woman and walk around or you’re a professional wrestler wearing a mask and you’re oiled up in wrestling.

    03:03 These are things that might impact your public persona.

    03:08 So because of your public commitments, you are much more obedient and you conform to what people want you to do or what the society wants you to do.

    03:14 As opposed to, if you’re a “nobody”, nobody really knows you or you have no prior commitments or public commitments, you can pretty much do what you want and if you want a deviate from what society wants you to do, that’s fine.

    03:26 So all set and done we’re taking a look at all the different things that can impact your behavior and at the end of the day, shape what you do and how you do it.


    About the Lecture

    The lecture Conformity and Obedience – How the Presence of Others Affects Individual Behavior (PSY, SOC) by Tarry Ahuja, MD is from the course Social Processes That Influence Human Behavior.


    Included Quiz Questions

    1. Large group size
    2. Anonymity
    3. Dissent between group members
    4. Absence of external social control
    5. Classroom debate
    1. A tourist in a New York City
    2. Being a famous actor/actress
    3. Attending a large concert
    4. Becoming a doctor
    5. Accountability from politicians

    Author of lecture Conformity and Obedience – How the Presence of Others Affects Individual Behavior (PSY, SOC)

     Tarry Ahuja, MD

    Tarry Ahuja, MD


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