CRE1: Formation of conscience; values and attitudes

This unit is about how a person form his/her conscience even with the influence of external factors like group pressure.

Formation of conscience; values and attitudes

           Image result for formation of conscience Conscience is one’s own sense of the rightness or wrongness of things. Conscience, therefore, is personal. And it is singular. I can say, my conscience tells me this is right or that is wrong. I cannot really say what other people’s consciences tell them, and less still can I be guided by the consciences of others.

Characteristics which influence our behaviour

There are a number of elements that imprints a person’s behavior at school, home and at the work place and these include;


Abilities are the traits a person learns from the environment around as well as the traits a person is gifted with by birth. These traits are broadly classified as −

  • Intellectual abilities
  • Physical abilities
  • Self-awareness abilities

In order to understand how these affect a person’s behavior, we need to know what these abilities are.

  • Intellectual abilities − It personifies a person’s intelligence, verbal and analytical reasoning abilities, memory as well as verbal comprehension.
  • Physical abilities − It personifies a person’s physical strength, stamina, body coordination as well as motor skills.
  • Self-awareness abilities − It symbolizes how a person feels about the task, while a manager’s perception of his abilities decides the kind of work that needs to be allotted to an individual.

Thus the psychological, physical, self-assurance traits owned by a person defines the behavior of a person in social and personal life. For ex: Ram has a high IQ level, whereas Rahul can lift a bike and is a strong guy.


Research proves that men and women both stand equal in terms of job performance and mental abilities; however, society still emphasizes differences between the two genders. Absenteeism is one area in an organization where differences are found as women are considered to be the primary caregiver for children. A factor that might influence work allocation and evaluation in an organization is the manager’s perception and personal values.

For example − An organization encourages both genders to work efficiently towards the company’s goal and no special promotion or demotion is given or tolerated for any specific gender.

Race & Culture

Race is a group of people sharing similar physical features. It is used to define types of persons according to perceived traits. For example − Indian, African. On the other hand, culture can be defined as the traits, ideas, customs and traditions one follows either as a person or in a group. For example − Celebrating a festival.

Race & culture have always exerted an important influence both at the workplace as well as in the society. The common mistakes such as attributing behavior and stereotyping according to individual’s race & culture basically influences an individual’s behavior.

In today’s diverse work culture, the management as well as staff should learn and accept different cultures, values, and common protocols to create more comfortable corporate culture.

For example − A company invites candidates for a job post and hires one on the basis of eligibility criteria and not on the basis of the country a person belongs to or the customs one follows.


Perception is an intellectual process of transforming sensory stimuli into meaningful information. It is the process of interpreting something that we see or hear in our mind and use it later to judge and give a verdict on a situation, person, group, etc.

It can be divided into six types namely −

  • Of sound − The ability to receive sound by identifying vibrations.
  • Of speech − The competence of interpreting and understanding the sounds of language heard.
  • Touch − Identifying objects through patterns of its surface by touching it.
  • Taste − The ability to detect flavor of substances by tasting it through sensory organs known as taste buds.
  • Other senses − Other senses include balance, acceleration, pain, time, sensation felt in throat and lungs etc.
  • Of the social world − It permits people to understand other individuals and groups of their social world.

For example − Priya goes to a restaurant and likes their customer service, so she will perceive that it is a good place to hang out and will recommend it to her friends, who may or may not like it. However, Priya’s perception about the restaurant remains good.


Attribution is the course of observing behavior followed by determining its cause based on individual’s personality or situation.

Attribution framework uses the following three criteria −

  • Consensus − The extent to which people in the same situation might react similarly.
  • Distinctiveness − The extent to which a person’s behavior can be associated to situations or personality.
  • Consistency − The frequency measurement of the observed behavior, that is, how often does this behavior occur.

The framework mentioned says it is all about how an individual behaves in different situations.

For example − Rohit invites Anisha and two more friends for a movie and they agree to bunk and watch the movie, this is consensus. Bunking of class says that they are not interested in their lectures, this is distinctiveness. A little change in the situation, like if Rohit frequently starts bunking the class then his friends may or may not support him. The frequency of their support and their rejection decides consistency.


Attitude is the abstract learnt reaction or say response of a person’s entire cognitive process over a time span.

For example − A person who has worked with different companies might develop an attitude of indifference towards organizational citizenship.

Now we have a clear idea about what are the factors responsible for the way we behave. We never think about these elements and how they affect our daily life but we can’t ignore the fact that they are responsible for the way we walk, talk, eat, socialize, etc.

The traits we use to find out the careers and college majors we should opt for, and will fit us the best is known as occupational personality traits. Personality can be further classified on the basis of an individual’s occupation and vocational options. John Holland grouped these features into six personality types −

Occupational Personality Types

  • Realistic Personality − These types of individuals have a realistic personality. They are shy in nature, stable, and practical. They belong to professions like agriculture, engineering, fashion designing, etc.
  • Investigative Personality − These types of individuals are analytical, curious, and have an independent mindset. They belong to professions like writing, teaching, medicine, etc.
  • Artistic Personality − These types of individuals have great imagination and are idealistic. They belong to professions like fine arts, music, photography, etc.
  • Social Personality − These types of individuals are sociable, helpful and cooperative in nature. They belong to professions like teaching, social work, counseling, etc.
  • Enterprising Personality − These types of individuals are ambitious, adventurous and energetic. They belong to professions like business, journalism, consultancy, etc.
  • Conventional Personality − These types of individuals are practical, organized, and logical. They belong to professions like training, nursing, finance, etc.

Most people fall into anyone of these six personality types.

People sharing the same personality type and working together create a work environment that fits their type. For example, when enterprising persons are together on a job, they create a work environment that rewards enthusiastic and innovative thinking and behavior — an enterprising environment.

People opt for such environments where they can use their skills and abilities, and freely express their values and attitudes. For example, Realistic types search for stable work environment; Artistic types look for Artistic environment, and so forth.

People who work in an environment similar to their personality type are more likely to be successful and satisfied with their job. For example, artistic persons are more likely to be successful and satisfied if they choose a job that has an artistic environment, like choosing to be a music teacher in a music school — an environment “dominated” by artistic people where innovative abilities and expression are highly valued.

Success and satisfaction

Understanding the theory and using it efficiently, aligns our core personality traits to fields that nurture who we are, who we want to be, by offering a rewarding path towards professional and personal growth.

The Myers–Briggs Type Indicator is a set of psychometric questionnaire designed to weigh psychological preferences in how people perceive the world and make decisions. The Myers Briggs model of personality developed by Katherine Briggs and Isabel Briggs Myers, is established on four preferences namely −

  • Types of social interaction
  • Preference for gathering data
  • Preference for decision making
  • Style of decision making

With respect to the prescribed Myers Briggs type of indicator, preferences include eight leadership styles −

  • E or I (Extraversion or Introversion)
  • S or N (Sensing or iNtuition)
  • T or F (Thinking or Feeling)
  • J or P (Judgment or Perception)

The Four Dimensions of Type

We combine the bias to give our Myers Briggs personality type. Say for example, our preferences is for E and S and T and J, so it leads to personality type of ESTJ. In the same way, there are sixteen Myers Briggs personality types that can be generated by combining these four letters together.

When we put these four letters together, we get our personality type code, and there are sixteen combinations. For example, INTJ implies that we prefer Introversion, Intuition, Thinking and Judging (remember, this implies preferences only – an INTJ also uses Extraversion, Sensing, Feeling and Perception).

Types of Social Interaction

The way a person communicates with people around and links with others socially is called social interaction. Who are we, how do we communicate with people? In order to answer these question we classify individuals and their preferences to direct their energy into two types Extraversion & Extrovert, Introversion & Introvert.

Extraversion or Extrovert

If people prefer to direct their energy to cope with others, things, situations, or “the outer world”, then their preference is for Extraversion.

An extrovert is an outgoing, socially confident person. This is denoted by the letter “E”.

Introversion or Introvert

If people prefer to direct their energy to deal with ideas, information, explanations, beliefs, or “the inner world”, then their preference is for Introversion.

An introvert is a shy and reticent person. This is denoted by the letter “I”.

For example − Archana is a nerdy girl and takes time to mingle up with others and is considered as an introvert while Alka is a very outgoing person and gels easily with everyone, so she is considered as an extrovert.

Why do people belong to groups?

People join groups for a multitude of reasons. A major reason is that group membership often results in some form of need satisfaction on the part of the individual. Membership into a group can fulfil numerous needs, some which group members may not realize they are benefiting from:

  • Companionship – groups provide members to simply be in the company of other people.
  • Survival and security – From a historic or evolutionary perspective our ancestors would partake in group experiences for hunting and defence.
  • Affiliation and status – membership into various groups can provide individuals with certain socials status’ or security.
  • Power and control– with group membership comes the opportunity for leadership roles; individuals who feel they need to exert their power and opinions over others can have such experiences within group settings.
  • Achievement – groups have the capability to achieve more than individuals acting alone.

Organizations typically form groups in order to accomplish work related tasks; however, as a member of a work group you may unintentionally reap the numerous benefits independent of the original group construct.

How groups influence its members’ behavior

“Group behavior” refers to the ways people behave in large- or small-group situations. People join groups for a multitude of reasons, most frequently because membership satisfies a need of the individual. Group membership can provide companionship, survival and security, affiliation status, power and control, and achievement. There is currently no universal description of what constitutes a group, though research has identified a few common requirements that contribute to recognition of a group:

  • Interdependence—Individual members must depend, to some degree, on the output of the collective members.
  • Social interaction—Accomplishing a goal requires some form of verbal or nonverbal communication among members.
  • Perception of a group—All members of the collective must agree they are part of the group.
  • Commonality of purpose—All members of the collective come together to attain a common goal.
  • Favoritism—Members of the same group tend to be positively prejudiced toward other members and discriminate in their favor.

How Groups Influence Individual Behavior

Individual behavior and decision making can be influenced by the presence of others. There are both positive and negative implications of group influence on individual behavior. For example, group influence can often be useful in the context of work settings, team sports, and political activism. However, the influence of groups on the individual can also generate negative behaviors.

While there are many ways a group can influence behavior, we will focus on three key phenomena: groupthink, groupshift, and deindividuation.

Groupthink happens when group members, faced with an important choice, become so focused on making a smooth, quick decision that they overlook other, possibly more fruitful options.

Groupshift is a phenomenon in which the initial positions of individual members of a group are exaggerated toward a more extreme position.

Deindividuation happens when a person lets go of self-consciousness and control and does what the group is doing, usually with negative goals or outcomes. We will discuss these more in detail below.


Groupthink is a psychological phenomenon that occurs within a group of people, in which the desire for harmony or conformity in the group results in an incorrect or deviant decision-making outcome. It has been further defined as a mode of thinking that people engage in when they are deeply involved in a cohesive group, when the members’ strivings for unanimity override their motivation to realistically appraise alternative courses of action.

Group members try to minimize conflict and reach a consensus decision without critical evaluation of alternative ideas or viewpoints. Several conditions must take place for groupthink to occur: the group must be isolated from outside influences;  loyalty must prevent individuals from raising controversial issues of alternative solutions; there must be a loss of individual creativity and independent thinking; and the group must experience the “illusion of invulnerability,” an inflated certainty that the right decision has been made. Typically the group is under a high level of pressure to make a decision, and it lacks an impartial leader. These factors can lead a group to make a catastrophically bad decision. Nazi Germany is often cited as a prime example of the negative potential of groupthink because a number of factors, such as shared illusions and rationalizations and a lack of individual accountability, allowed for a few powerful leaders to enlist many otherwise “normal” people in committing mass acts of violence.

While groupthink is generally accepted as a negative phenomenon, it has been proposed that groups with a strong ability to work together are able to solve problems more efficiently than individuals or less cohesive groups.


Groupthink: This image outlines the requirements, symptoms, and defects of groupthink in detail. Groups must be cohesive, insulated, lack an impartial leader, and homogenous, as well as be in a provocative, high stress situation, in order for groupthink to occur.


Groupshift is the phenomenon in which the initial positions of individual members of a group are exaggerated toward a more extreme position. When people are in groups, they assess risk differently than they do when they are alone. In the group, they are likely to make riskier decisions as the shared risk makes the individual risk seem to be less.

What appears to happen in groups is that discussion leads to a significant shift in the position of the members to a more extreme position in the direction they were all already leaning. A group of moderate liberals may shift from moderate to strongly liberal views when in a group together. A group of mildly racist people may become viciously racist when together. The theory behind this shift is that the group dynamic allows the individual members to feel that their position is correct or supported, and they will feel more comfortable taking on more extreme views, as other members of the group support their initial ideas. The extreme ideas seem less risky as it appears the view is held by numerous like-minded people.


Deindividuation is exactly what the word implies: a loss of one’s individuality. Instead of acting as individuals, people experiencing deindividuation become lost in a group. This often means that they will go along with whatever the group is doing, whether it be rioting, looting, lynching, or engaging in cyberbullying. Some people posit that this happens because individuals experience a sense of anonymity in a group. The larger the group, the higher the incidence of deindividuation, which is characterized by an individual relinquishing self-consciousness and control and doing what the group is doing. This occurs when people are moved by the group experience to do things that, without the group for support, they would not normally do.

It is important to distinguish deindividuation from obedience (when a person yields to explicit instructions or orders from an authority figure), compliance (when a person responds favorably to a request from others) and conformity (when a person attempts to match his attitudes to group norms, versus the total relinquishing of individuality seen in deindividuation).


Obedience is a form of social influence that occurs when a person yields to explicit instructions or orders from an authority figure.

Obedience, in human behavior, is a form of social influence. It occurs when a person yields to explicit instructions or orders from an authority figure. Obedience is generally distinguished from compliance (behavior influenced by peers) and conformity (behavior intended to match that of the majority). Following the Second World War—and in particular the Holocaust—psychologists set out to investigate the phenomenon of human obedience. Early attempts to explain the Holocaust had focused on the idea that there was something distinctive about German culture that had allowed the Holocaust to take place. They quickly found that the majority of humans are surprisingly obedient to authority. The Holocaust resulted in the extermination of millions of Jews, Gypsies, and communists; it has prompted us to take a closer look at the roots of obedience—in part, so that tragedies such as this may never happen again.

Research on Obedience


The Milgram experiment on obedience to authority figures (1963) was a series of social psychology experiments conducted by Yale University psychologist Stanley Milgram. These experiments measured the willingness of study participants to obey an authority figure who instructed them to perform acts that conflicted with their personal conscience.

The experiments involved a “teacher” who conducted the experiment, a participant, and a confederate who pretended to be a volunteer. A confederate is someone who is a part of the experiment, but who pretends to be a participant in the study. The participant believed his role was randomly assigned.


Milgram experiment setup: Illustration of the setup of a Milgram experiment. The experimenter (E) convinces the subject (T) to give what he believes are painful electric shocks to another subject, who is actually an actor (L). Many subjects continued to give shocks despite pleas of mercy from the actors.

The participants were instructed that they had to shock a person in another room for every wrong answer on a learning task, and the shocks increased with intensity for each wrong answer. If participants questioned the procedure, the researcher would encourage them further. The person receiving the “shock” would make noises of pain, complain of heart pains, and even demonstrate seizure-like behavior.

At this point, many participants indicated their desire to stop the experiment and check on the confederate; however, most of them continued after being assured they would not be held responsible. If at any time the participant indicated his desire to halt the experiment, he was verbally encouraged to continue. If the participant still wished to stop after all the verbal prods, the experiment ended. Otherwise, it was only halted after the participant had given the maximum 450-volt shock three times in a row.

Milgram’s senior-level psychology students hypothesized that only a very small fraction of participants (1%) would inflict maximum voltage. In Milgram’s first set of experiments, 65% of participants administered the full 450-volt shock, even though most were very uncomfortable doing so. Most participants paused and questioned the experiment at some point, but 26 out of 40 still administered the full shock, even after the confederate ceased to respond. These results demonstrate that participants were willing to obey an authority figure and administer extremely harmful (and potentially lethal) shocks.


Factors that influence compliance include the following:

  • Group strength: The more important the group is to an individual, the more likely the individual is to comply with social influence. For instance, an individual is more likely to comply with the requests of her sorority than her biology classmates.
  • Immediacy: The proximity of the group makes an individual more likely to comply with group pressures. Pressure to comply is strongest when the group is closer to the individual and made of up people the individual cares about. For example, compliance with parents’ wishes is more likely if they live in the same city than it is if they live in another state or country.
  • Number: Compliance increases as the number of people in a group increases. Importantly, the influence of adding people starts to decrease as the group gets larger. For example, adding one person to a large group (from 60 to 61) is less influential than adding one person to a small group (from three to four).
  • Similarity: Perceived shared characteristics cause an individual to be more likely to comply with a request, particularly when the shared feature is perceived as unplanned and rare (such as a shared birthday).


In psychology, conformity is defined as the act of matching attitudes, beliefs, and behaviors to group norms.

Conformity is the most common and pervasive form of social influence. It is informally defined as the tendency to act or think like members of a group. In psychology, conformity is defined as the act of matching attitudes, beliefs, and behaviors to group norms. While conformity is often viewed as a negative characteristic in American culture, it is very common. While high levels of conformity can be detrimental, a certain amount of conformity is necessary and normal, and even essential for a community to function. It is generally distinguished from obedience (behavior influenced by authority figures) and compliance (behavior influenced by peers).


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