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    Influences of Conformity and Obedience on Self

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    Please help me with the following questions:

    1. Compare and contrast the concepts of conformity and obedience.
    2. Analyze a classical study concerning the effect of group influence on the self.
    3. Analyze a contemporary example of the effect that group influence has on the self
    4. Analyze individual and societal influences that lead to deviance from dominant group norms.

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    I tried to give you the most help I could by answering in paper format and leaving you space to expand or contract. This is around 3500 words and not to be handed in as your own work.

    To Thine Own Self Be True
    Influences of Conformity and Obedience

    When Polonius is about to send his son Laertes off to Paris to spy on Hamlet he gives him this sage advice: This above all: to thine own self be true, And it must follow, as the night the day, Thou canst not then be false to any man. Farewell, my blessing season this in thee! (Hamlet Act 1, scene 3, 78-82) What Polonius seems to be telling his son is that the way forward, no matter what befalls him and what he may come up against, the only way to be fair to himself and to others is know himself and to be true to that knowledge. In following this advice he may just be able to survive the craziness of the events that are about to submerse him and at the very least in the end he will still know who he is and where he belongs. This is not an easy task for Laertes, as the rest of us, comes to know and understand himself through complex inter and intrapersonal interactions. Social psychologists would contend that who we are and how we are in the world is a function of how we consciously, unconsciously and subconsciously interact with the world around us. The people around us, our environment, influences our understanding of ourselves and our beliefs, attitudes and cognitions. This is what makes social influence one of the major areas of study and discussion for social psychologist seeking to understand how a person beliefs, behaviors, attitudes and cognitions are influenced by the groups we belong to or seek to belong to.

    For the sake of this discussion, we must distinguish between the methods of social influence and the individual's response to it. Included among the methods of social influence are peer pressure, advertising, proselytizing, educational and formational systems and the like. These methods are important because there is a prevailing social and cultural need to secure and reinforce group identity, affiliation and cohesiveness. As children, we are taught the requirements of belonging to groups and this formation continues throughout life. We learn what it means to, and how to, behave in a family, school and work group. We learn the rules and boundaries of citizenship and the rules and laws for an orderly society (Fiske, 2004). Part of that instruction and formation is also directed at teaching the skill necessary to discern between legitimate and illegitimate authority and acceptable and unacceptable behavior. In collectivist societies and groups, our identities and behaviors are more directed towards and connected to group affiliations. However, in individualistic cultures or societies there is more emphasis on individual fulfillment. In both cases, the need for group cohesion is imperative and the securing of compliance is paramount to the future and well-being of the group (Jetten, 2006).

    There are three responses to social influence compliance, conformity and obedience. All of these refer to a method of adhering to group norms and expectations. To a certain way of thinking, they refer to the degree in which free will and self-identity is held intact or abrogated . They are ways of clarifying and establishing an individual's degree of belonging in a group based on the depth to which they accept the group's norms. According to Fiske, individuals choose and respond to groups based on the degree to which their needs and interest are best served (Fiske, 2004). Conformity can be defined as an individual changing or adapting their beliefs, attitudes and behaviors to match those of the group. The extreme form of conformity is that of the "true believer", the person for whom the beliefs, attitudes and behaviors of the group are the identical with their own and who has lost the ability to differentiate and critique (Tsuji, 2002). Compliance affects free will to a lesser degree because to comply one does not have to surrender or change their beliefs, attitudes, cognitions or possibly even behavior. Compliance merely requires an individual to make a conscious decision to do what is requested or required. It is task related.

    It is often assumed that obedience requires conformity or at the very least compliance. However, obedience does not necessarily require that an individual's and the group's belief structure be identical or in some instances even compatible. Rather obedience is a response to accepted authority. Ideally, individuals maintain the exercise of free will and are expected apply critical and moral thinking skills to whatever orders or directions that are given (Skitka, 2009). The individual has to distinguish between legitimate and illegitimate authority and licit and illicit orders or instructions. For example, following illegitimate leadership and illicit orders does not diminish personal responsibility. It is the assumption that the individual made a free will choice. On the other hand, at some point if an individual has conformed their will, beliefs and cognitions to that of an illegitimate group or authority there could be morally some lessening of responsibility even if they are still held legally responsible for their actions.

    The classic example of these phenomena ...

    Solution Summary

    This solution provides an expansive 3500 word essay on conformity and obedience. It looks at classic studies on concerning the topic and provides modern examples. It is cited and contains a complete list of references for further investigation of the topic.