How to Set Yourself Free: Obedience and Conformity

Social “norms” dictate what is acceptable within a certain society, culture, or group. These norms are a predominant reason we tend to conform to the masses rather than striking out on our own, even when our way is right for us. Injunctive norms, what is approved or disapproved of, or descriptive norms, describing what most people do, have an impact on our behavior and our conformity tendencies. This article will tell you have to evaluate what you’re doing in your life based solely upon obedience and conformity to our society around us – and how to free yourself to live for your best intention.

The Influence of Information

Often we conform is because we believe the group or crowd knows something we do not and therefore we follow suit. This is called an informational influence and happens more frequently than we think. Have you ever followed the car in front of you when you were pulling out of a crowded event and a bit lost because you figured they know the way? This is experiencing an informational influence. The want/need to be accepted within a group is experiencing a normative influence which is also very common. Factors that influence obedience are being told what to do by an authority figure, proximity to that authority figure versus the proximity of the opposing party who is telling you to do opposite of the authority figures instruction.

Aggressive behavior can come in many different forms such as hostile aggression, instrumental aggression, or downright violence. Instrumental aggression is when the aggression is a means to an end compared to hostile aggression which is when you gossip about somebody with the intention of hurting that person with that gossip. Simply put violence is when the aggression turns physical and someone is harmed.

There are many triggers that lead to aggression such as frustration, the media, proximity to weapons, or drug/alcohol usage. The media often glamorizes violence which often times translates to real life. This can include video games, movies, or even a regular network TV sitcom. Frustration is an easy cue to aggression because when frustration mounts it is completely natural to look for an outlet to “blow off some steam”; sometimes that outlet turns out to be someone/something that did not even prompt the original frustration to begin with.

It has been found that close proximity to weapons can also lead to aggressive behavior versus not having a weapon at your disposal. Even studies performed 30 years ago solidified this correlation. Multiple studies found a definite relationship between the availability of firearms within a certain area and firearms-related crimes in that area.

On the opposite end of the spectrum we have pro-social behavior which is any type of positive social interaction. Altruism, doing something good with no self-serving motive, is a great example of pro-social behavior at its finest. There are many theories on altruism and whether it truly even exists but the empathy-altruism hypothesis states that feeling empathy for another is the defining reason behind altruistic acts. Most cultures encourage helping one another, as it is the social norm in most places, which is another motivation behind altruism.

Obedience and Conformity in Love & Relationships

Another aspect of social psychology is the need to be loved and form relationships with others. The attraction we have to one another usually has certain components like proximity, similarity, equity, attractiveness, and how hard we have to work for that attention we crave. We are most likely to begin a relationship with a neighbor rather than someone who lives 5 blocks down, someone who has similarities with us, including physical attractiveness, and someone that we can reap equal benefits from rather than all give and no take. Humans, as a rule, have a need to belong which is why we seek out interpersonal relationship within our lives.  

Love can come in many different forms with many different elements that may or may not apply. Consummate love is the ultimate type of love that contains intimacy, passion, and commitment whereas companionate love contains only intimacy and commitment. Intimacy is defined as the closeness or bond we feel with another person, passion is the physical attractiveness we have towards another, and commitment, whether it be long or short-term, is our dedication and loyalty we show to another person (Feenstra, 2013).

There are different combinations or one of these elements alone, that make-up the many different types of love that we may experience.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *