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6. How often do you show conformity in your behaviour? What are the determinants of conformity?
Answer : Conformity in your behavior means behaving according to the group norm, i.e. the expectations of other group members. Conformity in behavior can be shown by the following examples. Some of your friends come to you with a letter of protest against a rule that has been recently announced, i.e. banning use of mobile phones in the school. Personally you believe that the rule is very sensible and should be enforced. But you also know that if you do not sign the letter. Thus, I have to behave according to the group norm.
Determinants of conformity are size of the group, Size of the minority, nature of the task, public or private expression of behaviour and personality.
(i) Size of the group: Conformity is greater when the group is small than when the group is large. It
is easier for a deviant member (one who does not conform) to be noticed in a small group. However, in a large group, if there is strong agreement among most of the members, this makes the majority
stronger, and therefore, the norm is also stronger. In such a case, the minority member(s) would be more likely to conform because the group pressure would be stronger.
(ii) Size of the minority : Suppose the subject finds that after some rounds of judgment of the lines, there is another participant who starts agreeing with the subject’s answer. When the dissenting
or deviating minority size increases, the likelihood of conformity decreases. In fact, it may increase the number of dissenters or non-conformists in the group.
(iii) Nature of the task: In Asch’s experiment, the task required an answer that could be verified, and could be correct or incorrect. Suppose the task involves giving an opinion about some topic. In
such a case, there is no correct or incorrect answer then conformity would be less likely in the second situation.
(iv) Public or private expression of behaviour: In the Asch technique, the group members are asked to give their answers publicly, i.e. all members know who has given which response. However, there can be other situations in which the behaviour of members is private. Less conformity is found under private expression than it is seen under public expression.
(v) Personality: The conditions described above show how the features of the situation are important in determining the degree of conformity shown. We also find that some individuals have a conforming personality. Such persons have a tendency to change their behaviour according to what others say or do in most situations.
7. Why do people obey even when they know that their behaviour may be harming others? Explain.
Answer : People obey even when they know that their behaviour may be harming others because if we disobey, some punishment might follow. Sometimes, it is because we believe that persons in authority must be obeyed.
Several reasons for this are:
(i) People obey because they feel that they are not responsible for their own actions, they are simply carrying out orders from the authority.
(ii) Authority generally possesses symbols of status (e.g., uniform, title) which people find difficult to resist.
(iii) Authority gradually increases commands from lesser to greater levels and initial obedience binds the followers for commitment. Once you obey small orders, slowly there is an escalation of commitment for the person who is in authority and one starts obeying bigger orders.
(iv) Many times, events are moving at such a fast speed, for example in a riot situation, that one has no time to think, just obey orders from above.
8. What are the benefits of cooperation?
Answer : When groups work together to achieve shared goals, we call it cooperation. The rewards in cooperative situations are group rewards and not individual rewards.
Benefits of coopoeration:
(i) People work together and hence work load on each individual is less.
(ii) Each individual can attain the goal only if other members of the group also attain the goal.
(iii) In cooperative groups, there is more coordination and acceptance for each other’s ideas.
(iv) members became more friendly and can excel easily in groups.
(v) Members are more active towards communication, interaction and discussions.
9. How is one’s identity formed?
Answer : One’s self-definition of who s/he is which may include both personal attributes, e.g. hard working, happy-go-lucky, or attributes which you share with others, e.g. girl or boy is known as social identity.
One's self identity is formed by oneself as a unique individual, and social identities derived from groups we perceive ourselves to be members of.
Although some aspects of our identity are determined by physical characteristics, one may acquire other aspects as a consequence of our interaction with others in society. Sometimes we perceive ourselves as unique individuals and at other times we perceive ourselves as members of groups. Both are equally valid expressions of self. The extent to which we define ourselves either at personal or at social levels is flexible. From our own experience, we would realise that identification with social groups can have a great deal of importance for your self-concept. feel so because of our social identity as an Indian. Social identity is, thus, that aspect of our self-concept which is based
on our group membership. Social identity places us, i.e. tells us what and where we are in the larger social context, and thus helps us to locate ourselves in society.
10. What are some of the causes of intergroup conflict? Think of any international conflict. Reflect on the human price of this conflict.
Answer : Some of the major reasons for group conflicts are:
(i) Lack of communication and faulty communication by both parties. This kind of communication leads to suspicion, i.e. there is a lack of trust. Hence, conflict results.
(ii) Another reason for intergroup conflict is relative deprivation. It arises when members of a group compare themselves with members of another group, and perceive that they do not have what they desire to have, which the other group has. In other words, they feel that they are not doing well in comparison to other groups. This may lead to feelings of deprivation and discontentment, which may trigger off conflict.
(iii) Another cause of conflict is one party’s belief that it is better than the other, and what it is saying should be done. When this does not happen, both parties start accusing each other. One may often witness a tendency to magnify even smaller differences, thereby conflict gets escalated because every member wants to respect the norms of her/his group.
(iv) A feeling that the other group does not respect the norms of my group, and actually violates those norms because of a malevolent intent.
(v) Desire for retaliation for some harm done in the past could be another reason for conflict.
(vi) Biased perceptions are at the root of most conflicts. As already mentioned earlier, feelings of ‘they’ and ‘we’ lead to biased perceptions.
(vii) Research has shown that when acting in groups, people are more competitive as well as more aggressive than when they are on their own. Groups compete over scarce resources, both material resources, e.g. territory, and money as well as social resources, e.g. respect and esteem.