Human interaction is the phenomenon which takes place when two humans have a tendency to have an effect over one another. Individuals are mainly unaware of the fact that they are responding to the external factors and are adapting to the surroundings. Every situation requires the humans to react differently and thus demands a different mannerism altogether. A simple example of such behavior is individual's behavior which shows professionalism in the work-related settings whereas the same individual will exhibit different behavior when found with friends or family. Hence, every situation requires individual to consider the external factors requiring thorough analysis of what to say and how to respond. The two fundamental examples of such behavior are conformity and obedience. These two terms may sound the same however individuals exhibit these two sets of behavior differently in different situations.
Human behavior tends to change in various social settings. Every human has a tendency of acting differently in an unexpected situation. Similarly, there are situations where humans are predicted to react in the similar manner. In everyday life we do the same. We show different behavior to routine process however an unexpected event, calamity, accident or surprise makes us react in a distinguished manner. Human behavior has a contagious nature. In our daily life, we observe ourselves following the mannerism, or thinking pattern of those who influence us. A socially influenced person who exhibits energy at work place is often missed when absent. Similarly, a socially influential leader is always looked up to for mentoring and guidance. We often find ourselves yawning and laughing when somebody in the group does that. A group of people found gazing upward influence an individual passing by, to stop and do the same. This is precisely the phenomena called conformity. Conformity and obedience form the basic social imperatives which design most of our behavioral patterns.
The power of conformity comes from one of human's basic desires: a desire to be socially acceptable and be an acclaimed member of the society. We humans are made to learn since childhood that conformity and obedience are the most suitable behavioral patterns. Conformity is the extent to which the individual will change his/her perception and attitude to be in accordance with the group norms. Now these norms can either be explicit or implicit. As per Fiske, conformity is to follow the crowd and demonstrate adherence to the group norms. Also, as Jetten and Postmes (2006) put it, an individual must feel part of a group and this feeling must be evidently different than what one feels for other groups. However, Fiske's work helps us in reaching a conclusion that the degree of conformity to the group norms varies with individuals. Hence, conformity is to mold one's actions in a manner which is socially acceptable by the social forces with dominance.
Another common behavioral pattern is obedience. It can be defined as "Behavior change produced by the commands of authority (Brehm, Kassin & Fein, 1999, p 232)." Unlike conformity which to show adherence to social norms, obedience to comply strictly with the commands / orders given by the higher authorities. For the existence of the society, obedience is considered as an important social catalyst. This is so because society will fall in to anarchy and a chaotic end if we tend not to follow the orders of our superiors, our parents, teachers, governing authorities. In Fiske (2004), it was stated that obedience has such social influence which may force one to even comply with unreasonable requests coming from higher authorities, without little hesitation.
There are different social settings in which these behaviors exist. Where conformity is the most common behavioral pattern shown by almost every individual under the desire of being socially acceptable. Obedience tends to exist in rather rigid social settings. In autocratic organizations, and rigid social environment, one can see individuals showing strict compliance. It is important to note that conformity is reflected in our casual behaviors as well professional attitudes as whereas obedience forms the basis of our fundamental behavior. It defines the principles which govern our existence and social compliance. One of the important examples of human attitude showing obedience is our religious system. Individuals follow blindly what has been being taught to them through prophets, holy books without questioning it. Since God is the supreme power, so whatever is the word of God has to be followed. Obedience has many faces and there can be million reasons why one shows it. To put it in simple words, conformity and obedience are two sides of the same coin yet with different pattern, having a distinguished impact on individual as well as the society. Where one is to adhere to group values; other is to comply with the orders given
Conformity and obedience both have their precursors and consequences. One cannot guarantee same results from doing so in a repetitive manner. A common example of conformity is teenagers becoming alcoholic because of the social norm that being an alcoholic means being an enjoyable company. Even many adults are observed to be showing compliance of various sorts which makes them a socially acceptable personality. Many adults start smoking because their bosses or supervisors smoke. However, this doesn't necessarily mean that conformity is a hazardous phenomenon. In order to ensure that society and organizations function properly, a synchronous mechanism is required. On the other hand, obedience makes individuals follow the command given rather strictly. Some of the common examples of obedience is the behavior taught in armed forces. An autocratic culture exists n such organizations which requires the human resource to follow the chain of command rather religiously, putting organizations' interest over theirs. Like conformity, obedience has its positive aspects. For an organization or team to excel, the employees or followers are required to show loyalty to the group's objective which is the main determinant of obedience.
Both these behavioral patterns are governed by consciousness and ego defenses. As per Freud, the mind constitutes of preconscious and unconscious parts. Here the unconscious part defines ego defense mechanisms and doesn't expresses itself directly. Anxiety is caused when the conflict between id, ego and superego arises and hence disturbed behavior is evident. The ego protects itself with various ego defenses. Where conformity and obedience are the social defensive mechanisms, they both can show signs of disturbance in general human behavior if overused. For example, an elder baby may feel insecure with the arrival if new younger member in the family because he finds it difficult to handle what he believes is the maternal rejection resulting in regression in the early developmental stage causing soiling of his clothes and demanding more attention.
We humans are quite habitual of adhering to group norms which form the very basis of group think. Especially, in the situations causing stress and extensive information processing, groupthink tends to be the refuge of many as they find it easy to comply with what the group thinks rather than exerting individual autonomy and expressing one's own opinion. In the situation where the conformity exceeds its functional limits, team members lose their ability perform critical evaluation of the ideas presented because of perceived group pressure for conformity. Groupthink flourishes on the very phenomenon of conformity and an over adherence to it makes the person lose the worth of his individual opinion.
Similarly, social facilitation and obedience also have a coherent relationship. Where social facilitation determines the impact on individual's behavior because of a social integer, obedience is the compliance to the determinants defined by the authority figure. Both the phenomenon are driven by the presence of the social catalyst and thrive on it continuation. This presence of detrimental social catalyst can be real, perceived or implied. Irrespective of the…