Obedience vs. Conformity

Difference Between Obedience and Conformity

Both Obedience and Conformity are types of social behavior. The complex nature of human behavior is subjected to frequent changes and is often affected by the prevalent trends in the society and popular social behaviors. Conformity and Obedience are the two aspects of the human behavior that have been very extensively studied by sociologists as well as the psychologists. Man is a social animal and prefers to live in groups. In every group, conformity and obedience are traits commonly encountered.  So where exactly lays the difference between Obedience and conformity, when they seem to have almost similar connotations?


It is an act of following orders from an authority without question. Starting with the parents when we kids, we have to obey orders from teachers in school and then our boss when we are adults. Those who are followers of the spiritual leaders perceive them to be a legitimate authority and obey his orders. The authority is given to these figures by the society and most of the time obedience is a trait that we tend to develop out of fear from or out of respect for the authority concerned in some cases. When we are in school, we never question and just do whatever the teachers want us to do.

Obedience enables human beings to follow the laws, have faith in God and follow social rules. Obedience is a spirit that makes schools to be great centers of learning as otherwise it would be difficult for a teacher to conduct a class where some students refuse to follow the orders given by the teacher.


Conformity makes people to behave according to the wishes of others. In a group, people change their beliefs and attitudes so as to match theirs with the majority of the group. When you meet, you are also docile. For people to follw there must be a authority in the group that influences the behavior of the group. Without this authority, it is hard to make group members to comply with the common beliefs and attitudes. If a group member fails to comply, he faces the wrath of authority and loses his credibility that is so very important to him. It is this pressure that makes people to comply.

Compliance is seen often in everyday life. If we execute a task that someone has asked us to do, we bend to his request. The most important feature of conformity is that it is the oral code or the law or rules to which the members of the group adhere to so as to be seen as being part of that group. The most common example of compliance is seen in the military, where the new recruits start to behave in almost the same way as the others around him.

In obedience, there is a perceived difference in status between those who obey and those who make the request. On the other hand, it is peer pressure which introduces conformity among a group of people. In case of conformity or compliance, it is the fear of social disapproval that is works.


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