many things we could do ourselves (Lederer, 1961). Of course, we are
dependent. So what?
If an 18-year-old becomes so homesick he/she can't leave home,
that's a problem. If a 16-year-old can't fix his/her own meals and do
his/her own laundry, that's a problem. If a 14-year-old has to be
socializing all the time, that's a problem. If a 20-year-old can't find the
time to follow politics and vote intelligently, that's a problem. If an
adult isn't capable of being self-sufficient if he/she were suddenly on
his/her own, that's a problem. If a lover feels he/she couldn't live or
"wouldn't know what to do" without his/her partner, that's a problem.
There are lots of ways of being dependent, some good and some bad.
Now, let's explore some specific ways we are dependent, i.e. by
being overly conforming, compliant, or obedient, and see how
dependent we are.
If you look at how similarly we dress and fix our hair, you'd have
to say we are almost all conformists. Consider the few males who wear
skirts, aren't they considered weird? Being considered odd is such
powerful social pressure that few of us males would think of wearing a
skirt, even as a Halloween costume. You might say, "So what? It's a
trivial matter." Better think again. Wolf (1990) says women are
"prisoners of impossible standards of beauty." American men and
women spend billions and billions for stylish clothes, cosmetics, hair
stylists, new model cars, fashionable houses and so on. Being "out of
style" is socially unacceptable, like men wearing skirts. Part of the
motive is to gain status by following new trends. Part of the motive is
simply self-aggrandizement; thus, American women spend more on
beauty and fitness aids than on social services and education (Rodin,
1992). There are better uses for the money spent on status and the
He tried to be somebody by trying to be like everybody, which makes him a nobody.
Research findings also suggest we are very eager to please others
by conforming. A famous experiment, involving easy judgments about
the length of lines, by Solomon Asch (1958) found that almost 75% of
the people tested gave at least one wrong answer in order to agree
with others (who were confederates of the experimenter and
intentionally gave wrong answers). The typical subject gave the wrong
answer in order to conform with the group opinion about one-third of