It’s time to resist conformity

Learned behaviour is any action that is undertaken by the individual to gain a desired outcome. For example Pavlov’s Dogs.

Conformity is the action of following unspoken rules or behaviours of any given group. To help answer our curiosity and assumptions. Also to mask our insecurities or lack of knowledge. For example Asch conformity experiment.

It’s very easy to conform to social norms, most times we don’t even realise we are doing it. It’s an innate mechanism in humans which makes us want to be apart of the collective and seek their approval. This can be in the form of agreeing with the majority even when you don’t agree , or crossing the road because a few other people do. When we hear the word conformity we all say ‘ I don’t conform I have my one mind’. So if we saw a large crowd standing still looking up what would your instinct be? To stand with them and look up. This is both curiosity and conformity. People often conform as they are curious why others have and what the outcome will be (social influence).

If everyone jumped of the cliff would you jump too? We’ve all this analogy time and time again. But it hides some truth in human nature. Humans are simple beings with complex mechanisms. This is an oxymoron of our lives. We are bound by social obedience.

An individual with suicidal ideations, maybe more inclined to follow social norms due to lack of control and the need to feel as apart of a group. This can be detrimental to their own mental health. For example if they perceive the majority to be self-harming, the need to be within a collective can cause the individual to also engage in self- harming behaviours. Here they will assume if the others are doing it than it must be right.

Let’s take the simple example of crossing the road because someone else has. Why do we follow that person do we assume they have a clearer vision than you of the road. Or are they taking the chance to get through? I myself have done this, followed others and I have also been the position where people have followed me. Here human beings assume the thoughts and actions of another person. What if the person who crossed out in the road hadn’t looked to see if it were safe? Or if they intend on hurting themselves? We are then in a vulnerable position ourselves because we assumed what their action meant.

In life we constantly assume, look for curiosity and conform to help us navigate through life. But it comes at a consequence. By conforming we are relying on others to for example keep us safe and control our lives. The concern is if we loose control of our lives, how are we meant to live?

An individual with a mental health condition will often feel a sense of no control and will look to others for guidance. This can both be positive and negative. If the look to professional or carers etc for guidance they receive filtered support and advice which lead them on the right path. However if they receive unfiltered guidance such as from others who are in a similar situation, they may be lead down a different negative path. The social influence of others and urge to be obedient can lead to undesired behaviours being learnt.

As you can see we have very simple innate behaviours but very complex mechanisms which drive it. So be confident and step out of line, make your decisions and choices based on you. Don’t look to others for guidance and someone is looking at you to for guidance.

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