Are We All Plagued With Conformity?

October 5, 2007
By Sadie Hewitt, Cocoa Beach, FL

As a person stuck in the middle of an institution known for its tendency to breed social conformity, high school has opened my eyes to many different reasons why people choose to act in ways they wouldn’t normally act. Because they typically aren’t sure of their identity, young people are more prone to conformity than others. In the most basic form, high school is plagued with conformity through the stereotypes that students pursue and experiment with in an attempt to discover their own identity. There are two types of conformity: the kind that makes you do your chores when your dad tells you to, and the unhealthy kind in which you blindly follow the ideas and rules of a clique or group, without questioning the negative effects it has upon yourself and the development of the rest of society. Conformity is common in that human beings strive for a sense of stability and acceptance in their lives. Because of this need, “we thus learn to conform to rules of other people. And the more we see others behaving in a certain way or making particular decisions, the more we feel obliged to follow suit.” (Straker, 2002,

Conformity in high school is a social norm. Students don’t want to be seen as outcasts within their various social groups. Or, in some cases, they want to be outcasts to fit in with their fellow outcasts. There are general stereotypical groups (the goths, the preps, the jocks, the misfits) in every social setting. These groups consist of people who want to be viewed as popular and interesting through their actions and dress according to the unspoken rules of their clique. Even the so called “misfits” tend to dress and act according to stereotype. Every human wants to feel accepted and valued which is a main reason why people are drawn towards groups that accept them for simple shallow reasons, such as dress. Instead of striving to be valued for one’s personality, they instead conform to a group’s ideals in search of the acceptance and power of a group. Conformity in high school centralizes mostly around the way people dress. Because people want to be able to identify with certain groups, many rely on others to provide their feelings of self worth and value. This is where blind conformity can become dangerous, as some people are wrongly led by values they do not agree with but are too misguided to stand up against. An example of this situation is a girl I used to know. She was someone who could change her whole personality in the instant a representative from a different group walked by. This girl would greet others in such a way that fit the mandates of that group. I would spend time with this girl occasionally, every time encountering different groups of people. The way she carried herself, the way she spoke, and even her dialect would change the instant she came in contact with another person. People began to see her as a fake person, someone most people avoided being around. I began to wonder that after all the switching around and changing of herself, did she recognize that she was even doing it at all?

The answer is no, because people do not want to believe they are conformists, whether negatively or positively. The main reasons why young people conform to the expectations of their peers is that they want to figure out who they are in the world, who they want to become, and to create their own values separate from their parents’. Young people rebel mostly out of anguish towards an ideal their parents place upon them. Children eventually want to be their own people separate from their parents which causes them to turn towards people of other interests, for a better understanding of other ways to exist in the world. The problem that many young people have is that they will befriend any group and accept their ideas blindly, without questioning the validity and morality of these ideals. The people who blindly conform to society’s ideals do not question the authority or the correctness of these ideals. A student who blindly accepts a clique’s ideals doesn’t ask herself if she thinks that these ideas are right or if she agrees with them, furthering the continuation of a society that doesn’t question authority and falls into any trap placed before it.

Reference Page

Huffman, K. (2006). Living Psychology. Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons, Inc.

Pages: 556-559
Straker, D. (2002) Retrieved September 23, 2007

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