Article

Conformity, Compliance, and Obedience

Leandre R. Fabrigar and Meghan E. Norris

in Psychology

ISBN: 9780199828340
Published online July 2012 | | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/obo/9780199828340-0075
Conformity, Compliance, and Obedience

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  • Psychology
  • Cognitive Psychology
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  • Educational Psychology
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Social influence refers to the ways people influence the beliefs, feelings, and behaviors of others. Each day we are bombarded by countless attempts by others to influence us, and as such, the study of social influence has long been a central topic of inquiry for social psychologists and researchers in many other social sciences (e.g., marketing, organizational behavior, political science). Theorists have typically distinguished between four types of social influence. Compliance is when an individual changes his or her behavior in response to an explicit or implicit request made by another person. Compliance is often referred to as an active form of social influence in that it is usually intentionally initiated by a person. It is also conceptualized as an external form of social influence in that its focus is a change in overt behavior. Although compliance may sometimes occur as a result of changes in people’s internal beliefs and/or feelings, such internal changes are not the primary goal of compliance, nor are they necessarily required for the request to be successful. In contrast, conformity refers to when people adjust their behaviors, attitudes, feelings, and/or beliefs to fit to a group norm. Conformity is generally regarded as a passive form of influence in that members of the group do not actively attempt to influence others. People merely observe the actions of group members and adjust their behaviors and/or views accordingly. The focus of conformity can be either external (overt behaviors) or internal (beliefs and feelings) in nature. Obedience is a change in behavior as a result of a direct command from an authority figure. Obedience is an active form of influence in that it is usually directly initiated by an authority figure and is typically external in that overt behaviors are generally the focus of commands. The final form of social influence is persuasion, which refers to an active attempt to change another person’s attitudes, beliefs, or feelings, usually via some form of communication. Persuasion is an active form of influence and is internal in its focus in that changes in people’s beliefs and/or feelings are the goal of such influence. Typically, persuasion is treated as a distinct literature from that of the other three forms of social influence and is usually included as a major area of inquiry within the broader attitudes literature. As such, this bibliography will focus primarily on literature related to compliance, conformity, and obedience.

Article.  9326 words. 

Subjects: Psychology ; Cognitive Psychology ; Developmental Psychology ; Health Psychology ; History and Systems in Psychology ; Educational Psychology ; Social Psychology

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