The Importance Of Conformity In Children

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Conformity is the tendency of an individual to modify his/her behavior in order to fit into a group. It is usually caused by the fear of ostracism or ridicule. The general level of conformity in a group correlates with culture and current socioeconomic situation. Conformity tends to be more pronounced and socially demanded in collectivist cultures as opposed to individualistic ones (Bond & Smith, 1996). Moreover, it was found that societies which are high in food accumulation, like agricultural societies, tend to exhibit higher conformity levels as opposed to societies low in food accumulation, like hunting and fishing societies, which are lower in conformity.
Also, it was found that conformity is more pronounced among an in-group contrary
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While in the Vietnam War era conformity declined, it had the tendency to grow during the more stable time periods of American history (Bond & Smith, 1996). This signifies conformity levels tend to be lower at times of social and economic unrest (Bond & Smith, 1996).
Conformity in Children According to Erikson, children between six and twelve years of age are in the fourth developmental stage, where the main objective is to understand instruction and perform tasks with others. Moreover, the biggest threat of this stage is the fear of inadequacy and inferiority (Ferrante, 2015). As significant part of this stage’s events is linked with the peer group, which is also one of the essential agents of socialization, it would follow logically that conformity among children of this age would be relatively high. On the other hand, G. H. Mead discussed the “looking-glass self”, a term originated by C. H. Cooley (Ferrante, 2015). He stated that we form our identity based on how other people react to our behavior and appearance. As childhood is one of the critical periods for identity formation, children tend to be more preoccupied with the desire to belong and satisfy the demands of their social circle (Ferrante,
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Children acquire many of their mannerisms by mimicking adults in their environment. This could signify that children who grow up among conformist groups tend to be conformist as well as opposed to children reared in groups who accentuate individuality (Haun & Tomasello, 2011). Moreover, children were observed to be more likely to mimic adults with conformist behavioral schemata rather than adults who were rebellious (Haun & Tomasello, 2011).
Asch’s Experiment Our study was modeled after the famous experiment of Salomon Asch which he first conducted in 1951. He gathered fifty male university students and gave them a “vision test”. In reality, the aim of his research was to establish what the level of conformity is among his sample. In each tested group, there were seven confederates and one uninformed participant. Confederates agreed on a wrong answer and it was observed whether the participant would conform (McLeod, 2008).
On average, 32% conformed, 75% at least once over twelve trials and 25% never conformed. According to Asch, there were to possible reasons for conformity – the desire to belong to a group, which he called “normative influence” and the belief that the group was better informed and right, which he called informational influence (McLeod,
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