Social Psychology: Group Influence on the Self

Conformity and obedience

Conformity and obedience are described as social behaviors that people engage in while undertaking their daily activities. The behavior of people is influenced by the society that they live in. However, obedience and conformity have been subjected to scrutiny by psychologists in order to help them analyze the relationship between the two concepts. Since people are social beings, we prefer to act in groups so that we can encounter concepts such as obedience and conformity (Martin & Bull , 2008).

An obedient person follows instructions without questioning the people who give him orders. For example, small children obey commands from their parents and teachers without questioning them. On the other hand, conformity is a trait that forces people to behave according to the expectations of other group members (Fiske, 2010). For example, when a person joins a certain group, he changes his beliefs and attitude so that they can rhyme with those of other group members. Therefore, a person who conforms to the actions of a group is treated as an obedient person. As a result, obedience and conformity should be regarded as social behaviors that are manifested in a group.

Classical study about the influence of social groups on an individual

The Milgram obedience experiment is a classical study that demonstrates the influence that group members have on the decision making process of an individual. The experiment demonstrates that obedience is influenced by the emotional state of a person, closeness of other group members, legitimacy of the group and the redemptive effects of social influence. The experiment shows that professionals who comply to a social group usually entice other people to join the group. In this case, they usually provide the leverage for the group members to remain united. Therefore, Milgram stipulates that the six weapons that protect people from social influence include reciprocity, social proof, authority, scarcity, commitment and consistency (Rashotte, 2012).

Modern illustration about the influence of a group on a person

When a person is welcomed into a social group, he is supposed to bring his skills and knowledge with him. However, many people enter into a social group and fail to bring their knowledge with them. When people enter into a group, they are supposed to show their individual characteristics in order to shield themselves from the negative influence of other group members. In this case, all members of a group benefit. This happens because they manage to intensify their awareness about the skills, capabilities and knowledge of other people. In this case, the group members prepare themselves to handle future challenges in a resourceful manner (Rashotte, 2012). Therefore, factors such as brain washing, control and persuasion influence the decisions that other group members make.

Individual and societal forces that make people deviate from the norms of a group

People who belong to a certain group should possess similar traits. A person who acts in a unique manner while in a social group is regarded as being subjected to the black sheep effect. In this case, other group members experience challenges while trying to cope with the people who deviate from their group. People deviate from a group when they become aware of the consequences that are associated with the rewards and costs of being in a certain social group.

Deviance from a group is treated as bad and disruptive (Drury, 2013). However, there are people who believe that deviance from a group serves as a rewarding experience. There are other people who deviate from a group when they become aware of the norms of the group (Fiske, 2010).


Drury, J. (2013). Come together: Two studies concerning the impact of group relations on ‘personal space. Web.

Fiske, T. S. (2010). Social beings: Core Motives in Social Psychology. New York: John Wiley & Sons.

Martin, C. H., & Bull , P. (2008). Obedience and conformity in clinical practice. British Journal of Midwifery, 16(8), 16-34.

Rashotte, L. (2012). Social Influence. Web.