Conformity is a social influence in which individual changes a belief or behavior in order to adhere to a social or group norm. It is not necessarily an act consistent with their personal moral or ethics, but an act of approval seeking. In fear of facing social rejection or being perceived as a social outcast, an individual may succumb to the social norm even if it out of their personal norm. Obedience is a social influence in which an individual carries out an act in response to a direct order usually given by a person of authority. Obedience may not be consistent with the individual’s morals or ethics either, but the act is carried out anyway. In fear of facing harsh consequences, an individual obeys orders handed down from a person with authority. Being obedient does not mean that the individual changes a belief, attitude, morals, or ethics, but simply obeys in order to avoid punishment.
As children grow and develop, they become sensitive to their personal identity and figuring out who they are. They choose to conform to the social mass in their school as an effort to fit in or feel as if they belong. Finding acceptance within the social norm may ultimately lead to a change in the personal beliefs and find peace in conformity. Obedience is found in normal aspects of life such as following traffic or criminal laws. Some people obey laws and instruction because they feel it is necessary to obey in order to avoid discipline or rejection from a group. Others choose to obey because in reality, they have no other option, or they have severe consequences as with prisoners.