Do not believe a word.
In the 1950s, Solomon Asch conducted a series of laboratory experiments. The conformity experiments demonstrated the fact that a person’s own opinions are influenced by those of a majority group. Through perception tests, participants changed their correct responses when the majority of the group responded differently.
While it may not be necessarily true that they have changed their minds, it can be inferred that they changed their responses because it is not “socially desirable”. However, some participants were sometimes truly convinced that their responses were incorrect and so changed their minds.
Stemming from the identity as homo sociologicus, people inherently desire the acceptance of others. Non-conforming behavior is often rejected by the majority. These members are considered the least desirable within a group and are often relegated to tasks of lesser importance. Thus, one’s actions are often revised to conform to and match the prevailing mood of the group.
In contrast, Siegwart Lindenberg’s goal framing theory posits that the actions of an individual are not solely triggered by the need for acceptance. Rather, these are triggered by a number of “goals”. The pursuit of these goals may be simultaneous. And the resulting action is a fulfillment of one “framed” goal over the others.
First, the hedonic goal. This pursuit is motivated by the pleasure or stimulation associated with the action, the results of which are positive emotions such as happiness or comfort. Moreover, the goal can also be the avoidance of guilt, anger, shame, or discomfort. This is an inherent motivation. Although the rewards may be short term, the influence is strongly compelling.
Second, the gain goal is pursued because of an expected reward or profit. These may be money, power, or influence, among others. This is especially true when rewards are perceived to be or are actually linked to the performance of the action.
And third, normative goals are motivated by the need “to act appropriately” or “to do the right thing”. The motive is to abide by norms and beliefs shared within a group. These may include a way of doing things, organizational philosophy, advocacy, etc.
Though these goals may be pursued simultaneously, one goal takes precedence over the others. The precedent goal is the one highlighted in the foreground. This is the goal frame. The other goals are still present, but relegated to the background. Workers may choose to momentarily disregard group-accepted behavior in order to gain rewards or profit. New members may cringe yet decide to parrot organizational taglines. Creative individuals experience joy in their creations, oblivious to public or popular expectations.
In Asch’s experiments, an individual’s actions are shaped by his need for acceptance. In Lindenberg’s Goal Framing Theory, the actions are results of the fulfillment of individual goals. In both, the motivation is self-centered.
At the end of the day, everything is just pretend. This should be the standard response, “Yeah, right!”
Real Carpio So lectures on strategic and human resource management, organizational behavior and management of organizations at the Management and Organization Department of the Ramon V. del Rosario College of Business of De La Salle University. He is also an entrepreneur and a management consultant. He welcomes comments at email@example.com. The views expressed above are the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the official position of DLSU, its faculty, and its administrators.