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Nonconformist - who is it


Nonconformism (from lat. non “not” + late lat. conformis “similar, consistent”) - the individual’s desire to adhere to and uphold attitudes, opinions, results of perception, behavior and so on, directly contradicting those that dominate in a given society or group. It is often considered a synonym for the concept of “negativism” and an antonym of the concept of “conformism”. In some cases, non-conformism is simply called the willingness of the individual to defend his personal position in those cases when it contradicts the position of the majority. In such cases, the phenomenon described in this article is distinguished under the name “anti-conformism"(From the Greek. Áντι" counter- ").


Non-conformism is often opposed to conformism, but a more detailed analysis of these types of behavior reveals a lot in common. The non-conformal reaction, like the conformal one, is determined and determined by group pressure and is dependent on it, although it is carried out in the logic of "no." Behavioral negativity is often associated with the fact that a particular individual is at the stage of joining a group, when the primary personal task for him is the task of "being and, most importantly, not seem like everyone else." To a much greater extent, the reactions of both conformism and non-conformism are opposed to the phenomenon of self-determination of a person in a group.

It is also noted that conformal and non-conformal behavior are more often found in groups of low level of socio-psychological development, and, as a rule, are not characteristic of members of highly developed prosocial communities.

The following experimental studies of nonconformism are widely known:

  • 1951 - “Asha Experiment”, in which about 8% of the subjects showed a non-conformal reaction.
  • 1963 - The Milgram Experiment. This refers to his modification, in which substitute subjects were instructed to refuse to participate in the "experiment." In this modification, most of the real subjects refused to participate in the “experiment” after the decoy, but 10% of the subjects continued to follow the experimenter's instructions, despite the experimental conditions.
  • 1980 - The experiments of Charles Richard Snyder and Howard L. Fromkin at Purdue University students, where students were first asked to evaluate how much, in their opinion, their 10 most significant attitudes coincide with similar attitudes of other students, and then participate in an experimental study of conformism. A pattern was revealed according to which, the more participants identified their own attitudes with the attitudes of others during the survey, the more they showed a tendency toward non-conformism at the experimental stage.

Psychological features of nonconformism

Despite the fact that the word "conformism" has a pronounced negative connotation, this phenomenon is quite justified from the point of view of the existence of society. For his own safety and well-being, a person should be part of society and adapt to his requirements, adapt to generally accepted norms and formal laws, whether he likes them or not.

Nevertheless, there are always dissenters, nonconformists, who actively, and often and defiantly resist the influence of society. Non-conformism is not just the defense of one’s rights and freedoms, but the desire to act “from the contrary,” proving with all his behavior that the people around him are wrong, laws are evil, power is corrupt, traditions are stupid, and twice two are not always four. It is impossible to convince a nonconformist of his wrongness, since his main principle is that everything you say is wrong, deceitful and absurd.

Sometimes his point of view is true and even constructive, and he is the only one right among many mistaken. It happens that society is so mired in conservatism that any denial of it is a blessing. But this does not happen from the nonconformist desire for truth, but as if by itself. The nonconformist’s peculiarity is that he never seeks to create anything, he is aimed exclusively at destruction, at negation.

Such people seem to be the exact opposite of conformists, but this is not so. They are united by dependence on public opinion. Only the conformist unconditionally agrees with him, while the nonconformist also unconditionally rejects it.

Reasons for non-conformism

Any society has a heterogeneous structure, so there will always be people in it who seek to influence weaker, supple, conformal personalities. The main goal of such dominants is to subordinate other members of the group, to take a more leading position.

But nonconformists who resist any influence, it would seem, do not strive for this at all, they generally prefer to stand apart, despising social norms, prohibitions and often defiantly ignoring any joint group actions. But, as it may seem strange at first glance, the behavior of these two groups is controlled by similar psychological mechanisms.

The main reason that encourages some people to influence others is the desire to assert themselves, the desire to prove their right to make socially significant decisions. The same desire for self-affirmation drives nonconformists.

The preservation of their individuality, unique personality traits is important for every person, therefore nonconformism is to some extent inherent in almost all people. But some members of society are so afraid of dissolving in society, getting lost in the crowd, that in opposition to social influence take an extreme position, often declaring a real war on traditions and generally accepted norms.

Informal youth movements such as hippies, goths, emo and others cannot be considered an example of non-conformism. Of course, they oppose the norms of an “adult” society, but at the same time, their members are very dependent on the influence of the subculture and are conformal. A nonconformist is always a loner. An example of such a person is the nihilist Evgeni Bazarov from the novel by I. S. Turgenev, “Fathers and Sons”. “I don’t share any opinions, I have mine,” these words of Bazarov are the creed of non-conformism.

Personal qualities of nonconformists

Nonconformism as a personality trait can have a different degree of expression. Of course, there are fewer people with such an individual feature than conformal ones, otherwise the society would simply collapse, but the denial of any one aspect of social reality is not uncommon. For example, in the society of book lovers it is customary to scold detectives D. Dontsova, and someone with foam at the mouth can prove that this is the best example of modern literature. A lover of classical music among rappers, an excellent student in a class with low academic performance, a scientist who refutes conventional dogmas - all these are nonconformists.

Despite the various manifestations of negativism, all non-conformists are united by a number of common psychological properties and qualities:

  • high (and sometimes unreasonably high) self-esteem,
  • rigidity (from lat. rigidus - intransigence) - resistance to any influence and external circumstances, including the adoption of new knowledge, assessments, attitudes,
  • self-confidence that allows you to ignore the opinions of others,
  • the desire to oppose society, often manifested demonstratively,
  • the desire to prove their uniqueness, originality, not to be “like everyone else”,
  • need for self-affirmation.

As a rule, non-conformists are strong individuals with a stable nervous system, because in order to confront society, one must possess not only obstinacy, but also willpower. Studies have shown that this category of people is characterized by a high level of intelligence and a penchant for creativity. There are more nonconformists among scientists, writers, artists, musicians than among representatives of non-creative professions.

Nonconformists are an integral and necessary part of society; these are those critics who are able to see mistakes and create conditions for the transformation of the social environment. It is they who move science forward, develop art and prevent social life from turning into a social swamp. But it’s good that the percentage of non-conformists in society is not too high, this ensures its stability and sustainability.