In accordance with the standard

In the Netherlands there is the mantra 'Act normally, then you are crazy enough'. You can question this. Because: when are you normal? Let me start with what the word actually means. In the word comes the word norm for, which means something like standard or rule. So doing normally means complying with the applicable norm or standard. Behave by the rules. In contrast to the industry and technology, norms in daily life cannot be defined so clearly.

The book "Influence" by Robert B. Cialdini

In everyday life, not the industry standard applies, but different ones norms and values. Values are ideals and motives that are seen by most people as important to pursue. Norms are then concrete guidelines for action. For example, road safety can be regarded as an important social value and an accompanying standard is to drive no faster than 50 kilometers per hour in built-up areas. Many people conform to this, even if they may only do so to avoid incurring a traffic fine.

Important resources for our Western norms and values include it Christianity and the humanism. Within our current society we still conform to norms and values based on these sources.

Stereotypical ideas
Conformity is also a strong weapon of influence. This concept is introduced in the book 'Influence' by Cialdini. In order to better understand this concept, it is important to first know more about fixed behavioral patterns. Chapter 1 (pages 7 to 10) of this book describes the following:

Every person uses fixed behavioral patterns. A fundamental characteristic of these patterns is that the behaviors that make them up unfold in much the same way and in the same order each time. Behavioral patterns that arise on the basis of a certain stimulus, also called the key stimulus. Stereotypical ideas are an example of these kinds of behavioral patterns. A certain key stimulus comes in and a stereotypical idea automatically emerges. An automatic and stereotypical approach is in fact at the forefront of many human actions, because this is often the most efficient form of behavior. We live in an extremely complicated environment, currently we live in perhaps the most complex and fastest changing environment that has ever existed on this planet. To be able to handle that, we need shortened versions or short circuits. We cannot be expected to recognize and analyze all aspects of every person, event and situation that we encounter, even within a day. We lack the time, energy and capacity for this. Instead, very often we have to use our stereotyped ideas, our rules of thumb, to classify things according to some key characteristics, and then react without thinking when any of those characteristics turn out to be present.

Examples of stereotyped ideas are ideas about what typically female and male jobs are. Nurse and receptionist would be typical women's jobs and have less status.

Most people are hardly aware of these automatic behavioral patterns. While they are so very present and seem to become even more important in the future. These automatic behaviors often develop on the basis of psychological principles or stereotyped behaviors that we have learned. Some of these principles are very powerful. There are people who have an eye for these principles and know their power. They then apply these principles as a weapon to get what they want from others.

Social burden of proof
You could regard conformation as such a powerful influence weapon. In the book it is not called conforming, but social burden of proof. This principle is used on television. Sellers also apply this principle. A smart seller provides a good reference to a potential customer if he or she wants to sell a product. Also in the marketing this principle is used. Pop stars are therefore not used for nothing to promote products. This principle also works well for social media. The number of likes on Facebook is also based on this principle. The more likes, the better something is. It is also possible to receive likes to buy.

It is very useful to conform. A society cannot do without conformists and everyone has to conform to a greater or lesser extent to the prevailing general norms and values. At the same time, it is wise to be aware of the power of social proof. It is then wise to ask yourself whether the values and norms determined by others are really the norms and values that you want to conform to.

You can do this by being aware that it can be used fallacies like from one populist fallacy. This is a form of reasoning that appeals to the opinion of the majority. Or by using a authority which is called upon. You could argue that these kinds of arguments are used fairly often when applying the principle of social evidential value in marketing. Incidentally, appealing to an authority is also seen by Cialdini as a separate weapon of influence. This principle and its arguments are just as powerful.

Source: 'Influenceby Robert B. Cialdini.


18 thoughts on “Conform de norm”

  1. Just to bring in a few great thinkers;
    “The individual has always had to struggle to keep from being overwhelmed by the tribe. If you try it, you will be lonely often, and sometimes frightened. But no price is too high to pay for the privilege of owning yourself. ”
    Friedrich Nietzsche
    - Men have been taught that it is a virtue to agree with others. But the creator is the man who disagrees. Men have been taught that it is a virtue to swim with the current. But the creator is the man who goes against the current. Men have been taught that it is a virtue to stand together. But the creator is the man who stands alone.
    Ayn Rand 

  2. Spent a lot of time and effort on that to conform. All have been pointless. Put me in orange in a football stadium among 100,000 orange supporters and they will pick me out like the odd man out .. Am always so well known everywhere, ”ohw yes that one, yesaaaa at least I know him I know who you mean ”.
    Very annoying at times to be a kind of frame of reference for all those norms that the conformists like to see confirmed. If I was walking around in armor, clownsuit or as a Gothic, I could imagine something else.
    It is a mystery to me what inspires all those adapted people. (Probably nothing at all) 

      1. Maybe to join the wave .. Or watch the pop artist on a big screen .. To have a good story at the coffee table .. To see 22 dwarfs running after a ping pong ball .. To chant hiha dog turd. to have to belong somewhere.
        Everyone has his own thing, but I don't have such a need myself.

  3. 'Put me in orange in a football stadium among 100,000 orange supporters and they'll pick me out like the odd one out ..'

    Why: P? Can you explain that further?

    I see conforming as adaptation, a condition to 'keep up'. The opposite 'nonconformism' is seemingly a trait of the gifted, where I am on one HB Forum once made a topic about it. I am someone who likes to be rebellious, but that offered so much resistance that I want to be a conformist on the outside. I must / can then use that non-conformism 'wisely'.

    1. If I could explain it, it wouldn't have been a mystery to me
      I am probably too smart for the environment I was born in, but I am still judged as such. My interests are certainly not the same and you will not meet me with the Dutch national team. I am not consciously non-conformist and I do not really feel the need to be obstructive everywhere.
      I think I just come from another planet and once fell there and ended up here.

      1. Are you also on an exploration mission on planet earth? I think that soon after this life I will report on planet earth and their peculiar inhabitants. :-) And then in 500 years' time again do a new exploration mission and see if there is some more progress. : P

      2. Your idea is figurative I suppose?

        Then it's all in your head ;-). 

        In a positive light, there is a challenge to make good use of being different, instead of being excluded, then acceptance comes into the picture, with which you influence the world view of others. Whether that is of use? Dynamics and thus growth (but also decay) is an essential part of our world, and we all contribute a bit to which direction it is headed.

        I assume you have some of the above in you as you are a regular visitor to Visionary?

        1. No dear Tui, it is not an idea, imagination or delusion, but true facts that create websites such as Visionair where I read things for which they would have preferred to lock me up in an insane asylum. Facts that have led me to wander through Spain on my own in a converted camper van because I no longer wish to conform to the public insane asylum called the Netherlands. Not that it is any better here, but it is anyway nice weather, I have already gotten a nice tan and will soon speak a nice word of Spanish with my LOI course. Which will be another reason for the average Dutchman to throw a lot of shit ... Because of course you don't do such things if you are conformed to the Dutch norm.
          Entends? Yo no soy tonto .. They say here in the advertising of the media market.

        2. If I may continue to ask, what do you mean by the following;

          "It is not an idea, imagination or delusion, but true facts that create websites such as Visionair where I read things for which they would have preferred to lock me up in an insane asylum." 

  4. If you are a non conformist in a company of non-conformists then you are in fact a conformist in that company :)
    People always look for groups. Someone who has a mindset that does not resonate at all and who never meets a like-minded person, I don't think will last long, even if he is in fact right. 

  5. I usually get the impression that it is precisely the predominantly non-conformist people who want to put the world in their own image, and often with verbal abuse at a distance (level). So-called revolutionary do-gooders with their insights, who take pleasure in turning what they see as stupid masses to their own outrage. Those who oppose it are fought with, if necessary, thousands of complicated opposing arguments, as a result of which the masses lose interest in such a discussion on level, they cannot or will not even follow the discussion anymore. It's a kind of cruel game of chess, but with human pawns. It is by no means that all non-conformists think that way, but those who do are the most active. Anyway, I don't care about them, I am a non-conformist myself, although the opposite is of course claimed, reputation just as well. Oppertunistic? No, just nature itself in me, which will always choose the path of least resistance to survive. ;)      

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