January 14, 2008

Obedience, Conformity, and Compliance!

Posted in English at 1:14 pm by Rou...

What is the definition of obedience, and who can be called obedient… and to what extent does following certain rules can be called obedience…? This actually led me to another point, which is the difference between obedience, conformity, and compliance…


The thing is that… Obedience is basically the act of following orders without question because they come from a legitimate authority.


But, what can be considered a “legitimate authority”…?

The examples in any person’s life are many… starting from parents, moving to teachers at school and even ending by spiritual leaders. Most of these authority figures are given their authority by society. Every person at some time in their life has followed a superior without questioning why they are doing what they are doing. For example we never question why we take tests in school. We just take them because we are told to do so.


Forms of human obedience include obedience to laws, social norms, God, self-imposed constraints, obedience of a wife or child to their husband or father, etc…


However, “Obedience” differs from “Conformity”, and “Compliance”


Compliance is most common within a group, it entails members changing their attitudes and beliefs in order to match those of others within the group – usually the group must have a leader who influences the rest of the group’s behavior. 


The concept of compliance is similar to conformity, yet slightly different. 


For compliance to occur within groups, one must adapt his/her actions to another’s wishes or rules. Requests for and acts of compliance occur in everyone’s lives.  For example; asking someone to perform a task is a request for compliance. The person requesting the performance of the task is not necessarily attempting to change the other’s beliefs, but simply needs or wants the task to be performed. 


This notion is what sets conformity and compliance apart. The central aspect of conformity is that the person being influenced by the group changes his/her attitudes and/or beliefs while the main point of compliance is the achievement of some specified task.


Apologies for the very long post…











  1. Edie said,

    Thank you very much for helping me with my Psychology homework.
    Don’t start sleeping if you write like this at one in the morning.

  2. Rou... said,

    Edie, it’s a pleasure to have you visiting my blog, and leaving a comment…
    I’m just glad that my little post could help with your psychology task… 🙂

    Have a splendid day! 🙂

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