Do you realize how much we conform? We do it daily. Is it a good or a bad thing?
Conformity is a change in a person’s behavior or results because of real or imagined pressure from one person or a group.
In society a nonconformist or an individualist is called an adequate person but those who conform are labeled inadequate. That’s what you’ll answer if someone asks you if you prefer someone with a clear and own opinion.
But in reality …
When in group someone disagrees (nonconformist), the person is liked less. The person who is liked more, is the one who conformed to the group norm.
In general, we tend to praise nonconformists long after they passed away or the situation has passed. Think about Margaret Thatcher and the Falklands War. Argentine claimed the Falkland Islands but Thatcher wouldn’t let that happen, she declared war. Many declared her crazy, why would you start a war for some couple of islands. But Thatcher did it anyway, she believed that when she’d let Argentine get the islands, in the near future they would want more land.
A Soloman Asch experiment showed us that if 3 persons would answer A (though it’s the wrong answer), the 4th person would also say A (though he knows B is the right answer).
And while you might read this, you probably think you’re less influenced by others, that you don’t conform that much. That’s another thing, we tend to overestimate ourselves. We know other people conform but we underestimate the extent to which we can be induced to follow the group.
If you decide to voice your own opinion, it activates a part in the brain associated with pain and emotional discomfort. (I guess I’m a masochist then ;))
It made me somehow sad to realize we never fully live. We live to live up to standards, to follow that what is already decided for us, out of fear to not be accepted.
I don’t know if I want to be part of something that makes no room for deviations, change. I like crazy people, those who decide not to walk in line. The ones who try to be honest (even if it hurts).
Source: The Social Animal, Elliot Aronson