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Easier Said Than Done

Easier Said Than Done

It’s easy to say that you’ll do your best, that you’ll do your part in making the world a better place by making the right decisions when the time comes. However, when you’re really put on the spot, when you’ve got the spotlight shining on you and you’re encouraged to do the wrong, you’ll know what it means to have your moral fiber tested. It’ll show how you act when you’re alone; not in proximity to others, but alone in belief.

When amongst peers or those from whom you desire respect, you tend to change yourself to accommodate that desire for inclusion. Sometimes this works for the better, which was the case for me in high school. I had gone to a school that fostered a high degree of intelligent students in various fields (not just science and tech, but also music, visual arts, and culinary arts). Every student had a niche they could fill at that school; it was truly a place where you could build up skills and inspire confidence to build yourself up. So I did just as everyone else did (in my own way). I explored who I was and what I enjoyed, and I developed many skills that I’ve retained to this day. While this isn’t the best example of conformity, it works to a degree: everyone at my school really made something of themselves, so I followed that path and made something of myself. I see this as a positive sense of “conformity” that was fostered by an enriching community. Conformity can certainly be a tool for personal and interpersonal progress.

However, we’ve also seen the dangers that conformity promotes. Dennis Gioia’s experience in the The Ford Pinto case, provides an in-depth example, especially through his published article that detailed his altered mentality during the case. Through his experiences there, he felt a strong we-vs-them mentality where he felt the need to ally himself with his colleagues and the Ford company. This desire for uniformity with his peers altered him as far as compelling him to cut his hair just to fit in (Gioia, 1992). During the Pinto case itself, he felt compelled to go by the damage threshold set by the company instead of accepting the hard truth of the matter, that these cars were deadly and had killed people (Gioia, 1992). He describes the compulsion in terms of the default scripts he had to follow while in the group, stating "Organizational culture, in one very powerful sense, amounts to a collection of scripts writ large. Did I sell out? No. Were my cognitive structures altered by salient experience? Without question. Scripts for understanding and action were formed and reformed in a relatively short time in a way that not only altered perceptions of issues but also the likely actions associated with those altered perceptions." (Gioia, 1992) While I personally do not want to consider him a bad person, I cannot deny that he is in part responsible for the incidents involving the Pinto, considering his position as the one directly in charge of recalling it. He was certainly a victim of negative conformity, but everyone still has an obligation to follow a proper moral code above any other code.

This pressure to conform to scripts in life is akin to the peer pressure found in other areas of life. We all possess a desire (conscious or subconscious) to blend into whatever environment we find ourselves in, be it for protection, comfort, or uniformity. This partially plays into the reason peer pressure is such a strong gateway for drug use amongst teens. Your peers surprisingly play a large role in the decisions you make, as you’ll likely want to join in for an activity if the rest of your friends are doing it. An article on The Arbor stated, “According to a study from Columbia University, 75% of teens surveyed said that seeing social media posts of other kids drinking and doing drugs encouraged them to try similar things.” (Peer Pressure, Teens and Drugs, 2018) It’s clear that among peer groups, there is a level of a subconscious script present where peers are meant to agree with another and take part in the same activities for the sake of inclusion, for better or worse.

Overall, it appears that scripts are present on some level, conscious or subconscious, and that won’t be changing anytime soon. We are mired in certain standards set on how to conduct ourselves around others, and that can promote proper societal conduct or create scenarios of grievous neglect. Scripts in themselves are neither good nor bad, but it is important for us to be aware of the scripts present in our lives and whether sticking to them would be appropriate in certain situations. It's not easy, but it sure can be done.


Sources:

Gioia, D. (1992). Pinto Fires and Personal Ethics: A Script Analysis of Missed Opportunities. Journal of Business Ethics, 11(5/6), 379-389. Retrieved September 29, 2020, from http://www.jstor.org/stable/25072287 (Links to an external site.)
Peer Pressure, Teens and Drugs. (2018, May 22). Retrieved September 29, 2020, from https://thearbor.com/peer-pressure-teens-and-drugs/

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