How Does Conformity Influence Behavior?

Conformity cover

Human behavior is both interesting and complex. It ranges from very light and funny expressions to intense and dramatic body language. The potential of the human mind to express its unspoken speech via a multitude of behaviors has always intrigued psychologists for many decades. However, one thing that alters an individuals’ behavior is the influence of external factors. Ever felt like you need to act in a certain way just because you are in a new situation? That’s because of conformity.

What is Conformity?

As of today, there is no fixed definition of this word, psychologists have proposed a variety of ideas on this matter. However, the basic idea can be described as when a person exhibits altered behaviors based on a new location or a group of people. Behavioral changes can be slight or extreme. It should also be noted that conformity does not mean changing the core beliefs of an individual.

How it changes one’s behavior?

Conformity toy

Similar toys against a wall representing conformity.

It is not so much of a how but more like a why. Believe it or not, conformity is not something that forces us to change our actions, it is our own way of thinking and general desire to be accepted and fit in that leads us to behave in a certain manner. One can choose not to act in a different manner for acceptance.

Now let’s uncover the how part of this question. Even though conformity doesn’t necessarily change our true beliefs, it does in a way take over our critical thinking and align our thoughts to match the new circumstances or the group. Another thing to factor in is that most people fear making a fool out of themselves, so just in order to not act foolish one conforms and behaves in an accepted manner. So we can simply say the nature of the human mind to be accepted is how it changes our behavior.

Types of Conformity

Accepted Con

Acceptance received due to conformity.

There are many reasons behind one’s conformity. These are the types of conformity by which behavior is changed.

  • Normative Conformity: This is a classic case of conformity, where a person alters their behavior in order to live up to others’ expectations and standards.
  • Informational Conformity: In this situation, we conform to others with a mindset that we lack accurate information and others know more.
  • Compliance: This type of conformity can even be considered faking it. As one changes their behavior to be accepted, however, completely disagreeing with the group internally.
  • Internalization: An inspiration might spark a thought process in this scenario. Where a person wants to become like somebody and start to unconsciously act in a similar fashion.

Other factors that cause conformity

Conformity being such a psychological heavy process isn’t limited to the previously mentioned type, it can happen because of other factors as well such as.

  • Cultures: If a person happens to move to a new country with a different culture, it is natural that an individual will look to others in order to change one’s behavior to fit in.
  • Motivation: This is similar to internalization, but can be without any inspiration from others. A person can change their behavior to say become healthy by incorporating healthy behaviors.
  • Intensity: When a situation starts to get intense and an individual is not used to it, they can often look for clues from others who have undergone similar circumstances and behave accordingly.

As stated earlier, conformity is not limited to any of these. Once you really start to think of it you’ll realize that conformity can happen because of just about anything. But the important question here would be, is it really such a bad thing to temporarily alter your behavior to receive a reward? I’ll leave you with that thought to ponder upon.

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