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Submission compliance

Part I:  Description

What is Submission Compliance?

  • Definition: Submission compliance is a social influence tactic where an individual yields to a request or demand from someone perceived as having authority or higher social status. This compliance is often based on the desire to avoid conflict or gain approval.

Key Factors of Submission Compliance:

  • Perceived Authority: The person making the request holds real or assumed power.

  • Social Pressure: Fear of disapproval or ostracism motivates compliance.

  • Uncritical Acceptance: The individual may not thoroughly evaluate the request before giving in.

Examples of Submission Compliance:

  • A child obeying a parent's instruction.

  • An employee following their manager's orders without question.

  • Someone agreeing with a dominant figure to avoid an argument.

Why Understanding Submission Compliance Matters

  • Social Dynamics: Recognizing this tactic helps us understand power structures and how decisions are made in groups or organizations.

  • Manipulation Awareness: Being aware of submission compliance makes you less susceptible to its influence.

  • Critical Thinking: It encourages healthy questioning of authority figures and promotes independent decision-making.

Part II:  Common Questions

1. How does submission compliance differ from simply following instructions?

Answer: The key difference lies in internal motivation and critical thinking:

  • Following Instructions Can involve choice and understanding. You comply because you deem the instruction reasonable and beneficial.

  • Submission Compliance Is often driven by fear of consequences, social pressure, or a desire to please rather than an independent assessment of the request.

2. Is submission compliance always a bad thing?

Answer: Not necessarily. Sometimes it's efficient and appropriate:

  • Emergencies: Following a firefighter's instructions without hesitation is essential.

  • Established Expertise: Deferring to a doctor's medical advice is generally wise.

  • The problem arises when submission compliance becomes the default mode, even when the request is harmful, unethical, or unjustified.

3. What types of people are most likely to use submission compliance tactics?

Answer:  Those who leverage:

  • Positional Authority: Managers, teachers, parents, officials.

  • Perceived Power: Individuals who appear strong, hold resources, or have social influence.

  • Manipulative Tendencies: Those who exploit the desire to be liked or fear of conflict to gain compliance.

4. How can I become less susceptible to submission compliance?

Answer: Here are some strategies:

  • Strengthen Self-Trust: Learn to listen to your inner voice and question directives that don't feel right.

  • Build Assertiveness: Practice stating your needs and opinions respectfully, even with authority figures.

  • "Buy Time": Instead of immediate compliance, say you need to think about it.

  • Seek Outside Perspective: Discuss questionable requests with trusted friends or advisors.

5. How is submission compliance studied?

Answer: Primarily through social psychology:

  • Famous Experiments: The Milgram Experiment and Stanford Prison Experiment highlight extreme examples of submission to authority.

  • Observational Studies: Analyzing real-world situations where power dynamics impact compliance.

  • Surveys and Questionnaires: Assess individual tendencies towards submission compliance.

Part III:  Additional Resources

Books about Submission Compliance

"Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion" by Robert Cialdini: 

  • A classic in social psychology. While covering several persuasion principles, it includes a dedicated chapter to authority and compliance.

"Mistakes Were Made (But Not by Me)" by Carol Tavris and Elliot Aronson:  

  • Explores cognitive dissonance and how people justify actions, including submission to problematic authority figures.

"Obedience to Authority" by Stanley Milgram:  

  • A researcher's firsthand account of his groundbreaking (and controversial) experiment on how far ordinary people will go when instructed by an authority figure.

Online Articles and Websites about Submission Compliance

  • Verywell Mind: Search for "Submission Compliance" ( Offers articles explaining the concept, its applications, and how to counteract it.

  • Psychology Today: Search for "Submission to Authority" ( Features blog posts and articles by therapists applying the concept to relationships and social structures.

  • Simply Psychology: "Milgram Experiment" ( Provides a detailed breakdown of Milgram's famous experiment on obedience, a powerful example of submission compliance.

Other Resources about Submission Compliance

  • Social Psychology Textbooks: Introductory textbooks on social psychology will have sections dedicated to obedience, conformity, and social influence where submission compliance is discussed.

  • Documentaries on Famous Experiments:  Search for documentaries analyzing the Milgram Experiment or the Stanford Prison Experiment.

  • Courses or Workshops on Assertiveness: Develop skills to resist undue compliance and advocate for yourself in healthy ways.

  • Self-Reflection:  Consider past situations where you might have been overly compliant. Analyzing these experiences fosters self-awareness.

Part IV:  Disclaimer

These results were highly selected, curated, and edited by The Nexus Inititiative. To make this amount of complimentary content available at a cost-effective level for our site visitors and clients, we have to rely on, and use, resources like Google Gemini and other similar services.

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