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What is independent behaviour? How can culture, situation and gender
affect levels of independent behaviour?
Independent behaviour is how a person resists the pressures to conform or obey orders
given to them. Counter-conformity is similar to independent behaviour although someone
counter-conforming will actively do the opposite to the group however; someone whose
behaviour is independent is un-swayed by the group's actions and decisions. Here are some
examples of cases where independent behaviour is evident: In Asch's study of conformity,
24% of participants didn't conform to the stooges at any point in the study, another study
that shows this is that conducted by Milgram into conformity and he found that 35% did
not obey all of the tasks given to them.
The levels of Independent behaviour are often highly influenced and affected by many
factors. One factor that was shown to affect levels of independent behaviour is the situation
that the participant was experimented in. Milgram's study showed that disobedience was
encouraged when the authority of the experimenter was challenged or lessened. This could
be done by performing the experiment in a less prestigious venue. The participants were
measured on conformity when asked to apply an electric shock to a victim. Disobedience
was significantly higher when the victim was closer to the participant and even higher when
the participant had physical contact with the victim (the `touch proximity' condition).
Another factor effecting independent behaviour is locus of control which is the theory put
together by Julian Rotter. The locus of control is an individual's own sense of control that
they have over events. Those with a strong internal locus of control believe they can control
to some extent events in their lives. This is opposed to people with an external locus of
control who believe event are out of their control and believe it is down to luck and fate.
Elms and Milgram, along with Oliner and Oliner found that people who have a high internal
locus of control are found to be much likelier to be disobedient and behave independently.
They also found that people with high social responsibility are more likely to be disobedient
and defy social norms.
Social psychologists, Alice Eagly and Linda Carli performed an analysis of 148 studies of
influenceability. They found that women are more persuadable and more conforming than
men in group pressure situations. This shows that men are more likely to behave
independently in group situations then women are.
A factor that also affects the levels of independent behavior is variation in culture.
Westernised, individualistic nations, for example Germany, raise children to be independent
and self-sufficient for later success in life. Alternatively, cultures that revolve around physical
labour and hard work, for example African nations, are often very dependent on each other
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and are very easily persuaded. Researchers found that individualistic nations on average
conformed only 25% of the time whereas dependent nations conformed around 37%.…read more