It is said that the first burial in human history was when a man saw a crow bury another crow. He learned the method and did the same to his fellow human. I believe we can date conformity from the beginning of humanity. The human brain functions in the warmth of conformity.
Conformity is a description of how our brain follows similar traits in a group. The term conformity is used for agreeing with the majority because people either want to fit in a group or want to be correct. It is something we do and see on a daily basis. A person or couple can be easily influenced by a larger group. There are some customs and standards that no one understood why they were introduced or what their purpose was; however, we follow them unquestionably. For example, the color pink is associated with girls, and the color blue is associated with boys. It doesn’t make sense but is a fine example of conformity.
Relatable people are always more liked; therefore, some people can be targeted by conformity when they wish to be liked by a certain group. It requires confidence and the audacity to stand out, and be wrong or different.
Conformity pressure usually results in an internal conflict in our brains. We might oppose the beliefs and attitudes of others but follow and agree with them without question since we are afraid of being ostracized.
Conformity might not always be controlled or deliberate. People often adopt opinions and behaviors from groups of friends without realizing it. For example, we might feel the urge to smoke when in a group of smokers or develop a music taste similar to our friends’, or mimic the accents of the opposite person. This explains that social behavior can be copied without consciousness. The human brain is designed to follow.
There are three types of conformity including compliance: when an individual chooses to follow the group to receive a good reaction or be liked and avoid rejection. However, in private he might not believe in their way of living. A general example of this is dressing according to the culture of the local people. Compliance is a temporary state of conformity that ends in the absence of peer pressure.
The second type of conformity is internalization, which involves an individual accepting the influence publically and privately. This happens when a group becomes a part of an individual’s personality and opinions. Internalization is often the case when the majority has more knowledge and can’t be challenged. For example, the conversation about religion.
Identification is the third type of conformity. It occurs when a person wants to develop a relationship with the group. Police officers following their code of conduct is an example of identification.
We develop our literal and figurative language with conformity as well. The way we speak in our comfort zone is adapted from our family and upbringing. How we say something and what we mean is a literal language that we pick from our neighborhood and community. Figurative language is what we create over time from our experience and surroundings. It is an example of a compliance type of conformity. We might follow a particular way of expression with a specific group but not use it outside the group such as creating sign language with our friends etc.
Conformity has adverse effects on humanity. In recent times, 350 deaths occurred on a bridge in Cambodia due to a panic created by the rural people who were uninformed about the swaying of a hanging bridge. People who were scarred spread their fear in conformity to the rest of the crowd and caused chaos.
During my junior year in high school, my best friend left school, and I was forced to socialize with the rest of the class. The reason I had ignored them for all these years was that they all thought the same, like the same TV shows, sports, etc. each of them lacked the quality of building their unique personality. My attempts to fit in with them failed several types until I decided to give their preference a chance. So, I watched every episode of “F.R.I.E.N.D.S” (the TV show) and tried again with some Chandler jokes. It seemed to work since I got along with them. Watching the show wasn’t the worst decision I had ever made.
I can say it was an example of an internalization state of conformity because I did like the show and agreed with the opinions of my classmates. I never give up on my personal preference, but I also approved of theirs. Even though I did object to following mainstream TV shows that don’t help you develop, I ended up liking the show.
This is not the only time I was targeted by conformity. The process is very natural and can have both positive and negative impacts. I once cheated on a test that I knew very well due to a fear of failing because everyone was copying each other’s answers. I scored the lowest on that test because I doubted myself. I was influenced by my peers to change my answers and copy what everyone else was doing. I didn’t hesitate once before I lost faith in my knowledge; however, I regret taking that decision.
When we are in the comfort of conformity, we depend on two social cues. Firstly, we seek information on the actions of others which is called informational cues. Secondly, we look at others to figure out what to do with the information, which is called normative cues. We learn this at a very early age. When a child falls, he first looks at his parent’s reaction to determine how he should respond. If the parents show fear, the child burst into tears; on the other hand, if the parents joke about it, the child follows.
People are often reluctant to break stereotypes or a group norm even if it has very little significance. Conformity can be very strong when it is created because of close friends and loved ones. We are always greatly influenced by people we respect and value their opinions. If we ever want to know a person’s preferences and habits, we should look into who they spend the most time with, who they listen to and who inspires them.
Psychologists have conducted many experiments to prove conformity, its types, and its reasons. The major reason is social acceptance and the desire to be liked. Other reasons include lack of knowledge and self-confidence in individuals. It is easier to stick with the larger group than stand out alone, disliked by everyone, and most possibly be incorrect.
Hence, it is proven that conformity facilitates our survival and comforts us because we don’t feel lonely and left out.