Conformism - what is it, classification and examples from life

Psychology as a field of scientific activity has one peculiarity. Many concepts that were initially strictly scientific and related to psychology subsequently acquired a slightly different meaning and began to be used in other areas, often completely non-scientific; Some such concepts have completely lost connection with psychology. The same thing happened with conformism. Nowadays, this term is used mainly in politics and ethics, and psychologists for their needs had to invent a new one, although outwardly similar - “conformity”. However, the former concept is also used in its primary meaning, so when referring to conformism, one should distinguish between “psychological” and “political”.

What is conformism

The literal meaning of the word “conformity” is “conforming”, “similar”, “similar”. The founder of the study of the phenomenon is S. Asch. He believed that such a personality trait as conformity is the individual’s conscious elimination of differences with representatives of the group to which he belongs.

In psychology, conformism is a person’s change of opinion or behavior under the influence of the opinions of others and submission to group pressure. It has been proven that in the personality structure such a quality as conformity suppresses a person’s individuality.

In sociology, conformity is a necessary component of personality that influences the success of an individual’s socialization. In sociology, this concept is attributed to almost every person to one degree or another. Socially, conformism is identified with a person’s adaptation to existence in a group. Conformity is understood as a person’s ability to follow the norms and rules established in a group. In social studies and politics, conformism is reconciliation. Political conformism can be observed during the period of pre-election agitation. Conformity in social science is associated with group pressure on the individual. This leads to a transformation of a person’s value system, a change in his positions and beliefs.

The definitions of conformity and conformity in psychology are almost the same, since these terms are synonymous. But there is also a difference between them. Conformity in psychology is a personal trait, and conformity is a style of behavior, a social pattern.

The opposite concept of this phenomenon is nonconformism and the desire for leadership. An example of nonconformism is a rebel who is ready to stand in opposition, defending his interests.

As socio-psychological studies show, internal conformity and external conformity are inherent in 50% of people. The phenomenon of group conformity was established in psychological experiments in almost all subjects who were under 17 years of age. The conformity effect allows a person to feel united with the group. To merge with a group, an individual is forced to accept the rules and norms of behavior in it, to make the values ​​of the group his own. In this case, conformism means the desire of an individual to follow the leader in a team. This trait of an individual helps him avoid difficulties and conflicts during the period of adaptation to a new team. The degree of manifestation of conformity is directly dependent on the numerical composition of the group and the level of its cohesion.

Examples of conforming behavior

In general, we need not go into the historical aspect to give the most striking examples of conformity, since we ourselves encounter this phenomenon every day. For example, when we get a job, we immediately get acquainted with a new team in which connections have already been established. People who know the intricacies of the company's hierarchy and each other's personal characteristics become for us, in a way, guidelines, whose opinions we listen to, and which can have a strong influence on the perception of the entire organization as a whole.

The media play a very important role in the formation of conformity in the modern world. They have become a tool through which it is possible to shape public opinion, manipulate it, and create current trends in the human mind. If the media supports a certain event or action, or an individual, then most people will also support it. The media are a source of information about current events taking place in the world; people believe them, and therefore show loyalty and conformity towards them. But sometimes the media deliberately use fake news to hide the most important and pressing information. In this case, everything depends on the level of trust in them, as well as on how much people themselves are willing to be subjected to such pressure.

One source of conformity is teamwork. In the process of its implementation, people do not always realize how much they suffer. Usually, working together in a team creates the illusion that everyone is united by a common idea and goal. But, in fact, in the process of working together, it is easier for people to impose their point of view on each other, and this is especially true for group leaders. They are well aware that they can lead the entire team, so they try to influence the weak members of the group, win them over to their side, and impose their point of view as the only true and accurate one in the current circumstances.

A person subject to conformity loses his individuality. This applies to the political sphere: being attracted to any campaign, a person perceives its ideas as the only true ones, therefore he stops thinking critically and developing his own ideas that can also change the world. Therefore, political parties and social movements today act as the very organizations that have the brightest conformists as members. Everyone realizes that they can make an independent choice or create something new, but at the same time, due to fear, indecision, lack of professionalism, or simply laziness, it is easier for a person to join a movement that has already developed than to propose new ideas.

Note 2

Thus, there are countless examples of conformism in the modern world. Each of us can be considered a conformist to one degree or another, it all depends on our worldview, internal attitudes, acceptance or non-acceptance of generally accepted values ​​and norms. People can also exhibit nonconformist sentiments, and, in this case, their ideas completely or partially contradict the ideas of the absolute majority.

Conformity cannot be unequivocally assessed as a negative phenomenon, because in the most contradictory situations it allows one to come to a common decision without negative consequences. Negative consequences are reflected directly on the individual, especially if the person himself realizes that the ideas do not appeal to him at all, and that they completely contradict his internal attitudes and value orientations.


Traditionally, there are 2 types of conformism: internal and external. In short, the definition of internal conformism is associated with a person’s actual change in his own attitudes, opinions and positions. The external version of this phenomenon involves creating the appearance of a change in a person’s views: he remains unconvinced, but outwardly expresses agreement with the opinion of the majority.

In accordance with another approach to the classification of conformity, it is customary to distinguish such varieties as:

  1. Identification is a definition of conformity in psychology, based on the individual's desire to merge with the group. This species is divided into subspecies:
  • classical identification - a person’s desire to be like an authoritative person, which is achieved by developing certain personality traits and expressing sympathy for the leader;
  • identification of reciprocal-role communication is a form of intra-group influence of team members on each other (merger with the group is achieved through condemnation of challenging behavior and encouragement of standard behavior).
  1. Submission is an outward expression of agreement with an authoritative person within one specific situation (while the person’s actual beliefs remain the same).
  2. Internalization is a complete or partial coincidence of the positions of a person or group with the beliefs of the leader. In psychology, it is believed that such conformity is the result of a person’s active mental activity.

In philosophy, conformism is classified into rational and irrational. Rational conformism is human behavior supported by logical reasoning. It is expressed in consent, obedience, compliance with established norms and rules. Irrational conformity is the behavior of a crowd in a critical situation, which is based on instincts and intuitive reactions (herd conformism).

Gender nonconformity in children

Childhood gender nonconformity refers to gender nonconformity in prepubescent children. In particular, gender nonconforming children may express desires to wear clothes of the opposite sex, refuse activities that are considered typical or appropriate for their gender, and seek to make friends of the opposite sex.

According to some studies, many gay and bisexual people were gender non-conforming as children. However, many authors point out that it cannot be concluded from this that gender nonconformity in childhood is directly related to the formation of homosexual or bisexual orientation, since adults can reinterpret their childhood memories, finding the roots of their identity in them. Likewise, heterosexual men tend to downplay their childhood gender nonconformity, labeling their childhood behavior as expressions of sensitivity or artistic ability.

Some gender nonconforming children also exhibit gender dysphoria—the stress of not matching their sense of self with their assigned gender. According to modern experts, the most important task of both parents and psychologists when working with gender-variant children experiencing gender dysphoria is to create the most comfortable and safe conditions for the child in which he can explore his gender identity and find suitable forms of gender expression . For some children and adolescents, gender dysphoria improves over time, while for others it persists into adulthood. In this case, the teenager may need to transition.

Gender dysphoria in childhoodICD-10ICD-9


The essence of conformity is submission to the group. But what is group conformity? How does conformity manifest itself in people's lives? This process occurs at 3 levels:

  1. Formal submission is a short-term phenomenon that can be observed in a specific situation. A person understands that the opposite of conformity in the current conditions is sanctions for disobedience. As soon as the threat of punishment disappears, conformity will disappear after it.
  2. Rational conformity. At this level, merging with the team occurs under the influence of external factors. It is beneficial for a person to be in this group. He accepts the norms and rules of life in the team, obeys these rules and expects the same behavior from other team members.
  3. Merging with the group. A person’s value system is completely restructured in accordance with the requirements of the group and does not depend on external factors.

The types of conformism and the pattern of its manifestation are determined by the reasons for the occurrence of the phenomenon. It is not difficult to compile a list of reasons for this phenomenon.


What factors influence the emergence of conformity? The definition of conformism allowed scientists to establish that this phenomenon is due to the following reasons:

  • poor awareness (if a person does not have sufficient information on the topic discussed in the group, he is inclined to listen to the opinions of experts and trust them);
  • poor development of a person’s communication skills (for such people, defending their opinion is stressful, therefore, in order to maintain a healthy state of health, it is more profitable for them to silently accept the position of the majority);
  • indifference to the problem under consideration (if a person is not interested in discussing the topic, he agrees with the opinion of the majority in order to quickly end this conversation);
  • aggressive attitude of group members towards the newcomer (obeying the instinct of self-preservation, the newcomer quickly accepts the rules of this group);
  • the individual’s interest in membership in a given community (if a person, when joining a group, pursues his personal interests, he will agree with the rules of the community at least outwardly);
  • the desire to occupy a certain position in the enterprise (the reason for conformity in production can be a person’s desire to occupy a leadership position - in this case he will agree with the boss in everything);
  • social position in society (representatives of the lower strata of the population are more inclined to share the opinion of the majority);
  • errors in upbringing (if the parents chose an authoritarian parenting style or there was overprotection in the parent-child family, then psychologists are confident that the child in such conditions will grow up to be a conformist);
  • level of education (the lower a person’s level of education or his IQ, the more often he behaves like a conformist);
  • gender (for women, merging with the reference group has become a typical model of behavior);
  • insufficient level of psychological maturity (as a result of the immaturity of some personal constructs, adolescents more often demonstrate conformity);
  • low level of self-esteem (self-doubt makes a person rely on the leader’s opinion and obey him);
  • increased personal anxiety combined with a person’s suggestibility (in situations of uncertainty, people with such personality characteristics find it difficult to defend their own point of view and resist group pressure);
  • fear of loneliness (fearing being rejected, a person becomes a conformist);
  • belonging to a certain culture. The reasons for conformity can be determined by a person’s nationality: in the West, this personality trait is regarded as negative (associated with compliance and submissiveness), and in the East, conformity and conformity are approved (perceived as tact).

When clients come to me who want to get rid of a position of subordination, I first need to determine the reasons for the development of conformity in them, so I tell them: “Briefly describe your thoughts that arise in those moments when you agree with the opinion of the majority and give your definition of the concept of conformity."

Characteristic manifestations

The main feature is the commonality of opinion in the team

Many managers strive to ensure that all their employees develop this character trait. In addition, the presence of conformity is considered a priority when selecting job candidates.

Let's find out what the characteristic of conformism is.

  1. Acceleration of adaptation. Such a person quickly joins the new team. It is much easier for him to build relationships with colleagues and begin the work process. The main thing is that it is necessary to follow existing norms and rules, which allows you to avoid conflict situations and clashes of interests.
  2. Loss of independence. Such a person is not capable of making decisions if she has agreed with someone else for a long time. For example, when a team loses its leader, the work process may stop.
  3. Simplifying the organization. Such employees never argue and agree with any option proposed by the manager.
  4. Prejudice against minorities. When a person agrees with the opinion of the majority, he begins to condemn those who disagree. Healthy competition disappears, opponents are condemned and reproached. People who differ from the majority in one way or another are not allowed to develop.
  5. Loss of originality. A person with conformity is not able to independently generate a new thought or think about other options. Therefore, you cannot hear anything unique from him.

Factors of influence

The conformity of a person’s behavior in a group does not depend on the direction of the community’s activities. What is the degree of conformity associated with? Why do some people conform and others do not? In simple words, conformity is a socially determined phenomenon that is provoked by factors such as:

  • person's age;
  • individual typological characteristics of a person;
  • type of nervous system;
  • personality mood;
  • social status of the individual;
  • human decision-making situations;
  • features of interpersonal relationships in a team;
  • personality traits of the group leader.

Factors influencing conformity of behavior are the same for representatives of different nationalities.

Stages of development

A brief definition of conformity in psychology is adaptation to life among people. The phenomenon of conformity is formed as follows:

  1. Submission stage. It begins from the moment a person enters a particular community. He is immediately influenced by the members of this group. As a result, a person's opinions and position change.
  2. Awareness stage. Analyzing the values ​​of the group, a person comes to the conclusion that his previous value system is erroneous, so in most issues he agrees with the opinion of the group. In this case, conformity refers to an imaginary scientific approach.
  3. Activity stage. A high social status in the reference group becomes a priority for a person. This means that deep down he may not agree with the opinion of the group, but outwardly he will demonstrate conformity because it benefits him.

Thus, the basis of internal and external conformity is the desire to avoid penalties, indifference and fear of loneliness.

Who is a conformist: personality characteristics

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