Do What Thou Wilt: How Does Conformity Influence Your Behavior

Last Update on September 23, 2021 : Published on September 23, 2021
Conformity influences behavior

Have you ever been in a situation when you didn’t want to go somewhere but you still went just because your friends wanted to go? Been there right? This kind of behavior is related to conformity.

All of us want to be accepted by our family, friends and society. Acceptance is defined differently by different people. Similarly we all do different things to feel accepted by people around us. Some of us choose to conform in order to feel accepted or ‘fit in’ to a group or place.

Conformity can be easily confused by a person who can easily be manipulated. Conformity is mostly a choice that is made in order to match your surroundings. It may or may not be something that you like.

Let’s understand it in detail!

What Is Conformity?

What is conformity

Many psychologists believe that conformity is a social influence that makes a person behave in accordance with social norms. Conformity is agreeing to do something or be like others just so that you can fit it and not be the odd one out.

  • Conformity can be referred to as a change in behavior influenced by an external factor. The influence can be of a person or a group of people
  • Conformity is only related to your behavior and nothing else. In the case of conformity there is behavioral change but there is no change in thoughts, beliefs and attitude.
  • Conformity can sometimes be in the form of compliance or adherence to an elder or senior basically to an authority figure.
  • We often conform to things under some pressure. It can be peer or parental pressure.

Example: You go out to party with your friends. Even if you don’t like the taste of a hard drink you still have it. You can do it because of peer pressure or you do it so that you fit in or you do it because not drinking is uncool according to your friend circle. If you decide to have a drink for these reasons then you have succumbed to conformity!

Also read: Why Do We People Please 

What Causes Us To Conform?

There can be a lot of reasons so as to why someone chooses to conform.  Like I said before, individual differences have a role to play here. There are many of us who conform to something just because we know that the other has better knowledge. Thinking that others might know better we choose to blindly follow them.

However, there are a lot of people who choose to conform only because they don’t want to make a fool of them in public. Such people decide to go with the flow, they do exactly what everyone is doing.

Having said that there are two main influences that might cause conformity:

  • Informational influence: This is when we conform so that we can be correct. There are times when we might not know about the details but just to sound/look correct we conform to what most people are saying/doing at that point.

Basically you follow the lead of someone you think has more information. You might agree with what your bank manager says because you think that they know more than you.

  • Normative influence: this happens most in the younger age. When we conform to someone just because we don’t want to be punished or ridiculed. Conforming to social norms, school/college rules, etc.

Another way normative influence works is when you want something in return. Children often conform when we want a reward.

What Are The Influential Factors?

What Are The Influential Factors

I think it’s quite clear now that conformity is when you agree to behave in a way that’s socially accepted. There are certain factors that responsible for you choosing to conform such as:

1. Size of the group: the number of people in your group has a role to play. You are most likely to conform when you are in a group of 3-5 people. When the number is more or less than that you are less likely to conform.

2. Cultural differences: Different cultures have different beliefs. Those cultures who believe in collectivism tend to conform more than others. Hence, culture can also have an influence on you.

3. Individual differences: since all of us have different personalities, people who don’t shy away and put their point across loud and clear don’t easily conform. Highly motivated people and people with leadership qualities are also less likely to conform.

4. Level of difficulty: if the situation you are dealing with has a high level of difficulty you are most likely to conform. When the other is more skilled than you are, you will conform to their decisions.

5. Unknown arena: you are more likely to conform when you have no knowledge about the place you are in or the thing that is being discussed. You will agree to what others are saying because of your lack of knowledge.

These are the most common factors that can influence your behavior. There can be other things also that can lead you to conformity. But that depends on what kind of a person you are and what are your surroundings.

I hope I was able to explain how conformity influences behavior to you through this blog. For more such blogs click here!

Thanks for reading!

Take care and stay safe!

About The Author

Kirti Bhati
Kirti Bhati

I am an English literature (major) and psychology (minor) graduate from St. Bede’s College, Shimla. Postgraduate in Clinical psychology from IIS University, Jaipur. She has published a Research paper on Music therapy in the military population and Workplace stress in a national seminar conducted by Fortis hospital (gurugram) and international seminar conducted by St. Bede’s College, Shimla, Respectively. Authored a dissertation work on ‘effect of social media addiction on the mental and physical well-being in adolescents’ Currently working at calm sage as a writer.

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