Introduction to Psychology
"Conformity and Culture" - Relating the Class to World Events
Psychological concept/Course material:
The Social Mind_Lecture 01 : Conformity
Describe the important aspects of your chosen event
Describe one psychological concept that you're going to relate to the event
Describe how psychological concept applies to the event
Draw a lesson, conclusion or recommendation from your analysis
22 July 2022
Japanese are well known for their politeness, good manners and thoughtfulness which makes them good at maintaining social orders and practices. However, they tend to have hesitation in exposing their emotions when their thoughts are opposite of everyone else. Australia is where I’m currently residing since early 2014, and is the country that is considered to be one of the world’s major “immigrant nations”. In demographic comparison between the two countries, 29.8% of migrants live in Australia while Japan only makes up about 2.3% of foreign nationalities, according to the research issued by Statista. In a multi-cultural society like Australia, some people have different races, standards, beliefs, attitudes and behaviours which makes them feel individuated from others.
When COVID-19 emerged in 2020, many new rules were imposed around the world to minimize the spread of the disease and we began to hear protests about the pandemic. It wasn’t just about controlling the virus, but people who were born and raised in different cultures believed or followed their directions, other than giving their trust to the information provided by their local government or experts. However, the Japanese didn’t seem to have much trouble in compliance with infection control as they were already accustomed to cooperating with social practices in general. Additionally, more than 20% of Japan’s population is over 65 years old which is the most vulnerable group to the virus, and young generations feel more responsible for protecting the elderly community. Considering what’s best for society, the Japanese tend to follow what other people do in order to physically and mentally feel safe and protected, regardless of the efficiency of their exercises and individual opinions. What everyone else does more matters than what an individual does or thinks.
Conformity is the psychological term used to describe the tendency of an individual to align their attitudes, beliefs, and behaviours with those of the people around them. The experiment was conducted by Solomon Asch in 1956. Male college students gave wrong answers to a simple visual judgment task rather than go against the group.
Variations of Asch’s procedures have been conducted numerous times across many cultures by Bond & Smith in 1996 and they analyzed the results of 133 studies that used Asch’s line-judging task in 17 different countries that were categorized as collectivist or individualist in orientation. Results were significant, conformity was greater in more collectivist countries than in individualistic countries. In comparison with individualistic cultures, people who live in collectivist cultures place a higher value on the goals of the group than on individual preferences. They also are more motivated to maintain harmony in their interpersonal relations.
Japan is a great instance of a “Collectivist” way of life as they often decide how to act, behave and perform based on widely accepted or expected standards in their culture. The negative aspect of this is that it makes people feel afraid of being different and rejected by society. The power of conformity often destroys individual’s ability to express themselves and value their personality, characteristics and existence.
Conformity and culture are strongly related to each other. In the example of the pandemic situation between the two countries, in an individualistic society like Australia, the government had to make compulsive orders to its citizen such as vaccinations and mask mandatory to protect their community, while Japanese as a collectivist culture chose to take precedence and priority over individuals and do what’s good for society without being told to do so.
However, Australia and other individualistic countries such as the US and Germany, are more likely to reflect the ideas and thoughts of their citizen with respect and value of individuals. They are also the symbol of freedom that people from collectivist nations admire in the way people are freely sharing their emotions and thoughts without compromise and hesitation.
It’s important to remember that we live as “I” but also as “We” because all different identities, personalities and characteristics make the world more unique and interesting, and that’s why we can appreciate the existence of each other and learn to be respectful of surroundings to maintain the harmony and stability of society.
The project gave me an opportunity to study deeper into cultural differences in human behaviours from a psychological aspect. By reflecting on my experience of residing in a different culture, I was able to highlight the negative and positive sides of human behaviour and social movement. There were also great findings on both individualist and collectivist countries/cultures that I never knew about, in terms of the quality of life, stress level and interpersonal relationships.
For the next step, I would like to learn further about how cultural differences could affect human minds or activities by generation, such as stereotypes and prejudice. I like to be aware that my standard or common sense doesn't always exist in others due to cultural differences or maybe personal preferences, and others need to take a step back sometimes to rethink what they say, behave or act concerning others as well.
Reviews from 7 peers
Description of current event
How poor or well did your peer describe the current event?
Description of psychological concept
How poor or well did your peer describe a psychological concept?
Application of psychological concept to current event
How poor or well did your peer apply a psychological concept to the current event?
What is ONE thing that your peer did well in their essay?
"The event chosen was well described with the reflection of her past experiences that made it easy & smooth to read through. She also dived deeper into a cultural difference in human behaviour and it was interesting to discover ... Nice work, Mayu!" - M.M
"It was good to see that the positive and negative sides of the psychological concept were both highlighted in her essay. Cultural differences can be a good example to discuss psychology for a worldwide class like this! I wish she has put her insights more at the end of the essay, but still a great essay! " - Y.S
What is the ONE most significant improvement that your peer could make to their essay?
"Individualization is the opposite term of Conformity which unfortunately wasn't mentioned in her essay, although, I like how she tried to explain with other psychological terms like collectivist and individualism which we didn't touch on the course" - Y.S
"I would probably use the different instance to discuss conformity other than pandemic situations as the problems in the event seems to depend on personal references, not too much of conformity" - N.W