How does norm conformity benefit individuals?

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Norms are defined as the set of implicit rules shared within a group that dictate how individuals should think, behave, and communicate. Conformity is the process by which an individual abides by these norms in order to fit into a particular group. Rather than standing apart, a conforming person attempts to blend in.

There are numerous benefits for the individual who conforms to the norms of a group. The most obvious of these is social support. One who fits in with a group will inevitably earn the trust and respect of others in that group, thereby gaining a social support system via relationship-building. This is ostensibly what drives people to conform: most people have an innate desire to belong and feel accepted. To achieve this, one might be willing to conform.

Another potential benefit of conformity could be that one is able to improve based on the standards of those with whom one associates. For instance, if one enters a social group of academically successful intellectuals, one might begin to improve one’s grades in order to fit in with the group. In that case, the group norms influenced the individual to work harder. While he or she was motivated to improve because of the pressure to conform, he or she still experienced growth and success. This is just one specific way in which norm conformity can improve one’s performance.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team

We’ll help your grades soar

Start your 48-hour free trial and unlock all the summaries, Q&A, and analyses you need to get better grades now.

  • 30,000+ book summaries
  • 20% study tools discount
  • Ad-free content
  • PDF downloads
  • 300,000+ answers
  • 5-star customer support
Start your 48-Hour Free Trial