For Wayne Imber, retired Social Psychology and Developmental Psychology professor, conforming to a specific belief, way of thinking, or lifestyle of another—individual or group—to fit in or to feel as if they belong, is dangerous. This behavior isn’t ideal because, in the process of conforming, you may lose your identity or you may start to behave in a way that is not only harmful to others but more importantly, harmful to yourself.
Conformity is an area of study in social psychology. In it, you will understand how conformity shapes communities, influences social norms, cultural and traditional expectations and practices, and how conforming or “rebelling” affects an individual’s social interactions and behavior.
From the day we were born, we have been taught to conform. As a child, conformity could mean behaving in a way that will please our parents, teachers, and other adults in our lives, as well as our friends; thinking that conformity just makes life a whole lot easier. At school, one may have been “forced” to conform by friends (peer pressure), or even by teachers.
As an adult, conformity is an even greater requirement. You conform to social standards all the time, such as how you live, what type of car to drive, how much you should be earning when you reach a certain age, the age at which you should start a family, and so on. In your professional life, you are compelled to conform to your company’s culture and ideals and align your goals with theirs. In other words, the world seems to beckon you to conform at every turn.
But not all type of conformity is bad. For instance, when you need to learn more about something and you conform to specific group because they have what you’re looking for, then this type of conformity is voluntary—and is generally referred to as internalization conformity.
There are various reasons why someone conforms, the most common of which is to “belong”, as mentioned above. A person may also conform to impress or earn the favor of someone they hold in high esteem, or they may conform because they identify with the belief or behavior of an individual or group.
One other type of conformity is known as normative conformity, where someone openly accepts a belief or view but in reality, he or she secretly rejects it.
As you can see social psychology is a complex and intricate web of human behaviors, expectations, perception, personal beliefs, and social acceptance or rejection.
Wayne Imber will talk more about social psychology in future posts so please check back again for those.
For questions, comments, or suggestions, please feel free to contact Wayne at your convenience through this site.
To learn a little bit more about him, please visit the About page on this site. To read his thoughts and musings, kindly visit his Blog page.
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