Obedience and Conformity: How they affect the behavior of an individual and the society

Obedience and Conformity:

How do they affect the behavior of an individual and the society


Social psychology research takes a gander at how individuals impact and are affected by others. How the individuals from a gathering impact an individual is an essential piece of social research. While talking about the impact of a group on an individual’s way of thinking or behavior, it is vital first to comprehend what the term ‘social impact’ implies. In rundown, it relates to any adjustments in the way an individual perceives, considers, or acts because of communication with someone else or a gathering of individuals. This varies from changed conduct realized because of influence. When somebody tries to convince someone else it is the expectation of the person to do as such, while social impact can originate from purposeful and additionally unexpected acts. The standards of society, or societal standards, assume a huge part in social impact as do obedience and compliance (Fisk, 2010).

Obedience and conformity are two factors that heavily affect how a person behaves, thinks, or reacts to different issues of life. Conformism can be explained as the adjustment in ways of thinking, feeling, or acting after one is subdued to a certain kind of social pressure, whether genuine or imaginary, practiced by a particular group of individuals. On the other hand, obedience is compliance with instructions given to one, by a person in authority. Obedience is a type of social impact where an individual complies with guidelines given by another person who is normally a specialist figure. It is the submission of an individual to a higher power or authority.  It is expected that without such a request the individual would not have acted along these lines (Zamperini, 2012).


In the 1960s, Milgram came up with his own particular hypothesis to clarify the compliance levels in a hypothesis he called agency theory. He explained the obedience levels in two ways; Autonomous state- This is the self-governing state when an individual accepts accountability for their own particular activities and actions since they are guided by their own particular ethics and qualities. Secondly, the agentic state is when people feel that they have decreased duty or responsibility in how they act since they are the servants of a figure in higher authority and are following up for their benefit, hence they are less inclined to feel coerced about their actions as they don’t feel completely responsible. It is perhaps this agentic state that can be used to explain the behaviors of key individuals in history such as Adolf Eichmann. During the Second World war, during the Holocaust, Adolf Eichmann was actively involved in the gathering, transportation, and execution of six million Jews, gypsies, trade unionists as well as communists in death camps located in Nazi, Germany.

When Adolf Eichmann was arraigned in court in 1961, he was utterly surprised that he was being executed for simply obeying. According to him, his actions were not murder but mere compliance with the orders he was being given, and in any case, obedience should be applauded and not punished. To make sure he was sane, Adolf Eichmann was tested by six psychiatrists who found him to be a normal average man, of sound mind. This example, clearly shows that blind obedience alters the way people act, even when they are morally upright (McLeod, Obedience to Authority, 2007). When they partake in heinous actions under the order, they do not assume the responsibility or guilty since they are acting on behalf of someone else, and hence to them, the guilty party is the one issuing orders.

When people saw an advert indicating that they would receive a reward for participating in Milgram’s experiment, any applied. The subjects in the Milgram research were informed that they would be involved in an investigation that concentrated on a person’s capacity to learn data. The members were made to sit at a table before a window where they could see the assigned student who was lashed into a seat in another room. On the table before them was a phony shook generator with 30 distinctive changes set apart from 15-450 volts. The student should retain a rundown of words and in the event that he or she neglected to do as such the member should give him or her consistently expanding stuns. Prior to this experiment, Milgram had asked many about the expectations of the results. A large number of psychiatrists estimated that only 1% of individuals would dare give the highest amount of shock as it would be insane owing to the fact that it is very dangerous. While the members seemed to have some negative responses to the procedure more than 66% of them proceeded to the largest number of stuns in the wake of being made a request to do as such. From these outcomes, Milgram concluded that many people will do nearly anything when made a request to do such by somebody in authority regardless of whether it conflicted with what he or she accepted as correct, moral, or legal (Black, March 23, 2014). As such, students may obey orders from their teacher without question since he/she is in authority. The master is always right and the servant’s duty is to comply with his instructions even when they are morally conflicted.

There are several factors that affect obedience. To show this, Stanley Milgram performed his experiment by varying various factors to study the different results gotten. When the location of the experiments changed from a prestigious place such as Yale University to an averagely looking office, the level of compliance also changed. It dropped to 47.5%. This clearly showed that people will respond differently to the same authority in different places. Prestige commands respect and honor which in turn garners a high level of obedience. When both the learner and the teacher were placed in the same room, and the latter requested to hold the learner’s hand, the obedience level dropped even further as the teacher became more conscious of his actions and felt guilty about the consequence of administering the shocks to the learner.

At the point when the vicinity of the authoritative figure was modified, where they cleared out the room and gave their requests by phone, it was simpler to oppose the requests from the teachers if they were not close by. At the point when the expert figure is near, the individual will probably comply with the experimenter. At the point when the experimenter left the room and gave arrange by means of phone, compliance levels dropped to 20.5% Obedience dropped when the experimenter left the room in light of the fact that the members were not being straightforwardly around them in a similar room diminishes the legitimate authority that the experimenter has. As the experimenter was giving their requests through the phone from another room, this influenced their requests to seem less real to the member as they weren’t straightforwardly around them to put weight on them. This could likewise be the member being in the self-ruling state in light of the fact that as the specialist figure has left the room if somebody somehow managed to come into the room, they’d be the one to accuse so there is a feeling of moral duty there.

In ordinary circumstances, individuals obey orders since they need to get rewards, they need to keep away from the negative outcomes of resisting, and on the grounds that they trust an expert is always right and true. In more extraordinary circumstances, individuals obey notwithstanding when they are required to damage their own esteems or perpetrate violations. In another real-life study by Bickman, when orders to collet litter were given in the streets of New York by three individuals; one dressed as a guard, one as a milkman, and the other as a civilian, the responses were very different. The guard garnered the highest level of obedience owing to his attire and the symbols of authority on him. The milkman was easily dismissed and little or no obedience was accorded to the civilian. Another factor contributing to this would be that the milkman and civilian came out as being rude for commanding people in the streets when this was not their duty/ job, to begin with (W, 2015).


Conformity on the other hand demands that people behave according to the norms set up for them by society. Standards are the principles of society that relate to what is regarded to be proper concerning esteems, values, dispositions, convictions, and practices. Infrequently these tenets are clear to all while others might be inferred as opposed to expressed. However learned, they should be followed or people could be rebuffed somehow or banished from the gathering as a way of punishment. This leads to peer pressure as ever individuals conform to the rules or practices of a certain group in order to earn a rightful place in it. Those who do not are stripped of their position and treated as outsiders. It is such circumstances that will lead to the use and abuse of drugs, smoking, drinking, or even submitting to brutal acts. People who need to be or stay individuals from those gatherings will agree.

The effects of social influence and the path in which it controls individuals’ assessments and conduct have played a vital in many social psychology researches. In particular, social impact alludes to the path in which people change their thoughts and activities to meet the requests of a social gathering, authority figure, social roles perceived to be of high importance, or a minority inside a group employing impact over the dominant part. In the everyday life, conformity impacts in its many structures all the time affecting our decision-making skills and our actions. For instance, a student may adjust his or her conduct to coordinate that of different candidates in a class. The views and traits of the majority in a group are probably going to illuminate the perspectives of new individuals at that social gathering. Besides, we are impacted by the solicitations of individuals who are viewed as holding places of power. For example, a representative will take after the requests of his managers with a specific end goal to satisfy them.

There are several reasons why people will conform to certain norms, beliefs, or practices. One reason is that we frequently fit in with the standards of a group to pick up acknowledgment and gain a sense of belonging. Supporters of a football team intentionally wear shirts of the team’s brand in order to affiliate with them. Companions may likewise wear comparable attire to their associates to encounter a feeling of having a place and also express their mutual thoughts. Conformity also brings about unity, cohesion, and cooperation which will be very beneficial when trying to achieve a common objective or goal. There exists strength in numbers and this often coerces individuals to join teams in order to increase their chances of success rather than work alone. This is experienced in art groups such as dance, football, and businesses where two companies may merge and conform to one set of policies in order to expand their markets and increase profitability.

Conformity does not always work in a positive light. Adjustment to narrow and old-fashioned practices and perspectives can debilitate the support of new thoughts and fresh ideas which could enhance the lives of a group. It can debilitate its individuals from addressing and debating the convictions held by the lion’s share of a gathering and its practices. This conduct has been seen in cults, where individuals are frequently hesitant to question the gathering’s power publicly because of a fear of being rejected by their companions. Conformity was used by leaders such as Adolf Hitler to manipulate his followers who believed him without a doubt, which led to the death of many of them in the Holocaust (Explorable., 2011).

In 1932, Jenness performed an experiment in a quest to explain or illustrate conformity. He filled a bottle with beans and individually asked a group of people to estimate the number of beans in the bottle. He then put the group together in a room and again asked them to estimate the number of beans in the bottle. In the third attempt, he asked every member to estimate the number of beans in the bottle individually, confirming if they would like to change their original estimate. Jenness found out that almost everyone changed their original values to a value either close to or equal to that of the group’s estimate (McLeod, What is Conformity? 2016). Conformity does therefore make on doubt themselves even when they are right and can be led to poor decision-making skills as it manipulates free will, encouraging an iron rule where rules are followed without asking questions.

In 1951, Solomon Asch carried out an experiment that involve five to seven persons matching a line against three others. The group was made up of anonymous participants who were to randomly give wrong answers. Asch found out that 75% of his participants conformed to the incorrect answers at least one time (Scott Constable, 2015).


Ordinary perception affirms that we frequently embrace the activities and states of mind of the general population around us. Patterns in attire, music, nourishments, and excitement are self-evident. Be that as it may, our perspectives on political issues, religious inquiries, and ways of life likewise reflect some degree the demeanors of the general population we cooperate with. So also, choices about practices, for example, smoking and drinking are impacted by whether the general population we invest energy with participates in these activities. Adjustment to standards is driven by two inspirations, they want to fit in and be appreciated and they want to be precise and collect information from a group. Leaders will generally additionally have an impact on our practices, and many individuals wind up noticeably faithful and take after requests regardless of whether the requests are in opposition to their own values. Adjustment to amass weights can likewise bring about mindless compliance, or the broken basic leadership process that outcomes from firm gathering individuals attempting to keep the unity of a group. Gathering circumstances can enhance human conduct by encouraging the execution of simple errands, and hindering the execution of troublesome undertakings. The nearness of others can likewise prompt social loafing when singular endeavors can’t be evaluated. Both conformity and obedience largely contribute to the behavior of a person and care should be taken especially when they are used for personal gains such as in cults and criminal gangs.


Black, J. L. (March 23, 2014). Conformity, Obedience, and Infuence in Social Psychology.

Explorable. (2011). Do as you’re told. Retrieved from http://explorable.com/stanley-.

Fisk, S. (2010). Social beings . Core motives in social psychology, 2nd Ed.;.

McLeod, S. (2007). Obedience to Authority.

McLeod, S. (2016). What is Conformity?

Scott Constable, Z. S. (2015). Conformity, Compliance, and Obedience.

W, S. (2015). Describe and discuss factors that effect obedience in Psychology.

Zamperini, P. B. (2012). Conformity, Obedience, Disobedience. Italty: University of Padua.