Posted in Photography, Psychology

Psychology of Pop Culture: Conformity

Conformity and individualism are both vital components of pop culture. It surrounds us, infiltrates every aspect of our lives, encouraging us to conform. We’re then faced with a choice: Do we conform? Or, do we rebel and emphasize our individualism. But, here’s the thing. When you try to be an individual, you end up conforming. When you go to Comicon, you dress up and think you’re unique, when in fact you’re not. You’re dressed like everyone else, behave like everyone else, and have conformed to that unique setting. When you are conforming to the group, and you actually come to enjoy it, you change your line of thinking, which is the definition of cognitive dissonance.

Conformity is where we adjust our behaviour or thinking to the rules or behaviours that we see around us. We all conform to social norms in everyday living because of society’s unwritten rules and norms. From an evolutionary perspective, those you stand apart from the group where the first ones killed. instilling in us that they only way to survive was to conform and blend in. Now with pop culture we are often so saturated with pop culture references through consumerism, where these large companies was to conform and purchase their merchandise.

When you see all the Disney, Star Wars, Marvel, Harry Potter merchandise and other references to pop culture it can be difficult not to conform, especially when friends, family and people who you know have already conformed. This has happened to me on a few occasions, where I have conformed and gave in to the temptation of watching certain shows because my friends were or it was what everyone was talking about. My friend Jorinda, recommend to me (on multiple occasions) to watch BBC’s Sherlock starring Benedict Cumberbatch. in order to get her off my back, I watched the first episode. I found it to be uneventful and boring. After I told her this, she told me to watch another episode, so I did. By the end of the second episode I enjoyed it. So,through conformity and mere exposure, it caused cognitive dissonance where I have become a fan of Sherlock and Benedict Cumberbatch (but can you blame me?)

Conformity occurs on the basis of power and the fear of being indifferent. you are more likely to conform to a larger group of people, or if you admire that group of people. But conformity can also occur out of fear, and insecurity. with that being said conformity occurs with pop culture because as a culture of social being, we put so much emphasis on pop culture which is driven by consumerism and brands. We given them power which is then fed back to us for us to further conform. A good example of pop culture conformity is  the documentary  “Generation Like”, which looks at consumerism of pop culture. The underlying message of the video is that we conform more than every before, but we are under the impression that we are thinking and behaving individualistically.

Now with conformity comes the idea of individualistic, which is the favouring freedom of independent action regardless of the group’s actions or behaviours, so being independent. When you reject the idea of conforming, you probably have the idea that it’s because you are a rebel, or a non conformist. But in reality your are still conforming to an idea or belief. A good example of this is with Comic cons. Prior to Comic Con expo, you get your costume of your favourite character, whether it be Jack Sparrow, wolverine, Harley Quinn, or a Disney princess. You think are being individualistic or a special snowflake, except that when are at the Comic Expo, you find many people are dressed as the same character.  not to mention that by dressing up as a character you are conforming to someone else’s appearance in order to be like someone else, which in this case is a fictional character.

The photo collage of cosplayers is a good representation of individualistic thinking leading to conformity of behaviours that occurs within pop culture and consumerism.

This goes to show that even with even in the generation of being different and standing out, it appears that we conform more than ever, under the impression that we are special snowflakes. I believe that the reason that conformity more visibly seen in current times, especially with pop culture is because of the large amount of access we have to different types of information that we are less able to think for ourselves.

With this being said, is there even such a thing as non conformity within the realm of social media, pop culture and consumerism?

For this week’s photo I decided to put to images that represent conformity. The first image (left) is of my sister and the Hulk. there are thousands of similar poses with this hulk and they all think that they are being original and individualistic. The second image (right) is of myself, where I conformed my behaviour. Normally I don’t take images of myself, and I don’t pose is creativity or embarrassing ways but I threw that out the window and conformed my beliefs and ideals at that moment, based on environmental influences of Vegas.

Link for the “Generation Like” documentary: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dZysrlnYL_Q

References:

Chou, T., Chang, E., Dai, Q., & Wong, V. (2013). REPLACEMENT BETWEEN CONFORMITY AND COUNTERCONFORMITY IN CONSUMPTION DECISIONS1,2. Psychological Reports112(1), 125-150. http://dx.doi.org/10.2466/01.07.09.pr0.112.1.125-150

Cummings, W. & Venkatesan, M. (1976). Cognitive Dissonance and Consumer Behavior: A Review of the Evidence. Journal Of Marketing Research13(3), 303. http://dx.doi.org/10.2307/3150746

Escalas, J. & Bettman, J. (2003). You Are What They Eat: The Influence of Reference Groups on Consumers’ Connections to Brands. Journal Of Consumer Psychology13(3), 339-348. http://dx.doi.org/10.1207/s15327663jcp1303_14

Fischer, J. (2010). Why We Conform. Plos Biology8(2), e1000277. http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pbio.1000277

Mandel, N., Rucker, D., Levav, J., & Galinsky, A. (2017). The Compensatory Consumer Behavior Model: How self-discrepancies drive consumer behavior. Journal Of Consumer Psychology27(1), 133-146. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jcps.2016.05.003

Monin, B., Norton, M., Cooper, J., & Hopg, M. (2004). Reacting to an Assumed Situation vs. Conforming to an Assumed Reaction: The Role of Perceived Speaker Attitude in Vicarious Dissonance. Group Processes & Intergroup Relations7(3), 207-220. http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/1368430204046108

PBS Frontline Generation Like. (2017).

Social Influence: Crash Course Psychology #38. (2017). YouTube. Retrieved 16 March 2017, from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UGxGDdQnC1Y&t=546s

Social Thinking: Crash Course Psychology #37. (2017). YouTube. Retrieved 16 March 2017, from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h6HLDV0T5Q8

Verhaagen, D., Gaskill, F., Hetterly, J., & Daley, K. (2017). Shrink Tank Podcast Ep.40: Pros of Cons – Shrink TankShrink Tank. Retrieved 16 March 2017, from http://www.shrinktank.com/ep-40-pros-of-cons/

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2 thoughts on “Psychology of Pop Culture: Conformity

  1. This is interesting because I too find myself pressured to like certain bands/music/movies/etc. because that is what “everyone is watching/listening to right now.” I’ve actually become aware of this need to conform when it comes to pop culture and almost try to defy it by refusing to follow the leader, although this defiance does fail sometimes. The things that we like can really say a lot about the groups of people we hang out with and the way we identify. Generally, you are either going to listen to music or like bands that your friends like, or become friends with someone because they like the same things you do. Pop culture does so much to influence us and our daily lives, it controls the things we do, the movies we watch, the music we listen to, and even the things we believe. We live in a time where “face-to-face” conversations are starting to look like texting each other while standing next to one another and there are people who cannot live without their phones. The DSM has even introduced internet addictions in recent years because we have become so reliant on our technology. Something that is interesting is the case of the two 12-year old girls who stabbed their friend in order to gain the respect of a fictional character. The story of Slenderman states that if you commit murder you will be allowed to join him in his secret layer and earn his respect. This seems to be a good example of how sometimes pop culture can cause people to do crazy things in order to fit in with a group of people, even if it completely fictional.

    Pop culture isn’t new, the TV becoming a household item back in the 1950’s really gave conformity in relation to pop culture a new name. The influence of bands and celebrities from all around the world saw people conforming, you were an outcast if you didn’t like the band who was a current hit. Pop culture is going to continue to influence us and whether we like it or not, we will probably continue to conform to what pop culture says and does. I know that I am guilty of spending way too much money to meet celebrities or buying clothing to show the things that I like. This is part of our culture and I don’t think it’s going to change anytime soon.

    http://youthesource.com/2015/08/20/youth-and-popular-culture-its-all-about-influence-and-interaction/

    https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/the-intersect/wp/2014/06/03/the-complete-terrifying-history-of-slender-man-the-internet-meme-that-compelled-two-12-year-olds-to-stab-their-friend/?utm_term=.5418a75acd88

    http://www.encyclopedia.com/history/culture-magazines/1950s-pop-culture-explodes-decade-conformity

    Like

  2. Interesting topic! I think social media has made an exuberant effect on the spread of these kinds pop culture phenomenon. The B.I.O.L model of bonding and identification-based observational learning suggests that people do not require tangible rewards to learn conformity from others. “Conformism and a motivation to identify with/act like others and maintain social relations with others are intrinsically rewarding and guide social learning” (Leca 2016), meaning that liking similar things to others is rewarded in our brain on their own so it would follow suit that people share these interests and obsession on their social media. Due to the fact that people can so easily share things they enjoy with people all over the world and just as easily bond and connect in this way.

    references:
    Leca, JB. “Social learning mechanisms and strategies.” Social Learning and Culture. University of Lethbridge, Lethbridge. February 2016. Lecture.

    Liked by 1 person

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