Peer Pressured Conformity

Olivia Lefere

In the graphic novel Unflattening (13-14), Nick Sousanis creates imagery to explain the effects of conformity. People's ideas become the same and there is no uniqueness that separates them from each other. Once they have conformed they have trapped themselves into thinking and doing the same as everyone else. Conformity can be easily seen in any society just as it was during the Holocaust.

  1. The lesson will begin with the teacher giving select students a note that instructs them to go up and stand by the door. While half of the class is standing by the door, the others sitting down will start to wonder what is happening. They will then have a choice to either stand by the door or stay at their seats. After this happens the teacher will tell them it was an example of conformity. Whether a non-instructed student stood up or stayed seat is an example of conformity.

  2. Then a discussion of conformity will preceed.

  3. The teacher will then give an historical perspective of conformity.

    Conformity happens when people want to be accepted or well-liked by a particular group. Whether an individual believes in the behavior or not, it happens so people can feel acknowledged. This need to fit in can take place on a very conscious or unconscious level. Just as conformity was shown in the activity at the beginning of class, it can be either a mindless or mindful act.

    An example of conformity is in 1492 with forced Jewish convertions. Spain expelled all Jews from their country who refused to convert to Christianity. This event was called the Spanish Expulsion and around 200,000 Jews were forced to leave Spain. To prevent this injustice from happening, priests encouraged Jews to convert Christianity to escape prejudice acts. Tens of thousands of Jews converted and had to conform to an entirely different belief. They were pressured to conform or else they had to risk their lives trying to find another country to live in.

    Another example of conformity was during the Holocaust. Individuals felt obligated to be accepted by a group, even if they disagreed with their beliefs or rules. During World War II, Nazis created a society that promoted violence and prejudice towards Jews. They ingrained the idea that Jews were an evil culture and inferior to the Germans. The people in the society started to think the Nazi ideals were typical once anti-Semitism propaganda was circulated. Many began to take place in exterminating Jews or go along with the ideas of Nazism. Germans who did not conform to the Nazis were accused of helping the Jewish people. No matter what stance they took, the Germans were obligated to conform to the Nazi ideals. Spiegelman, in the graphic novel Maus, recalls this conformity shown during the Holocaust.

  4. Next students will be put into pairs and asked to come up with one example of conformity in today's society. Then they will be asked to answer these questions for the closing activity.

    • Describe one example of conformity in today's society.

    • When and where does this exist?

    • What motivated this group of people to conform?

    • What does this tell about the group?

Psk3tch's "Non-conformity"