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Immature= nonconformist

  1. May 15, 2008 #1
    I used to think that the word immature strictly meant childlike behavior. Immaturity definitely does describe childlike behavior at times, but in the last few years, my impression has changed to think that perhaps people sometimes use the word immature to describe someone who is merely nonconformist or eccentric, as opposed to childlike. Of course, being childlike could be a form of nonconformity. However, in my opinion, people will call someone immature for being eccentric in a way that is not childlike.

    Or is all nonconformist behavior childlike?

    Does immature = nonconformist?

    Edit: I should have used a question mark in the title, making the title: Immature = nonconformist?
  2. jcsd
  3. May 15, 2008 #2
    In the terms of your context, then immature can mean nonconformist. But in general terms, I think you are asking, "Is the word 'immature' now slanged to describe 'noncomformity'?" I don't really think that happens around the country, probably only in your experience. In philosophy you have to look beyond your own little world, and then keep an unbiased perspective. In asking this question, I have induced that you asked this question simply based on your experience.

    That is a good thing, because without asking questions about one's thoughts, then one is being ignorant to his or her curiosity and inquisitiveness.
  4. May 15, 2008 #3


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    Immaturity has nothing to do with being a non-conformist.

    Someone considered a non-conformist doesn't adhere to the mainstream, it has nothing to do with maturity or a lack of.

    Someone that acts immaturely lacks the self restraint, tact and social interaction of someone their age.

    And this isn't philospohy. Moved to Social Sciences.
  5. May 15, 2008 #4
    Maybe to you, and I am glad that you contributed your opinion...But I've noticed that other people use the word immature to describe a person for being nonconformist.

    Evo, you have a new definition of immaturity to me.

    Someone that acts immaturely lacks the social interaction of someone their age? First of all, is this what you mean, or is it a typo? Would it be immature to be an introvert?

    Do you consider extroverts to be more mature than introverts?
  6. May 15, 2008 #5


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    Well, they do have something to do with each other: a period of non-conformity is a necessary part of adolescence.

    During normal psychological development children first identify very strongly with their family of origin. Then around 11 or 12 years old they begin to mentally and psychologically establish their own identity independently from their parents and siblings. As an important part of finding the answer to the question "who am I" they stop conforming to a variety of established roles and patterns in their life. Once an adolescent has established their own identity, if they are well-adjusted, they will largely resume conformist behavior in their chosen role.

    Extreme non-conformism in an adult can therefore reasonably be viewed as immature (as could extreme conformity), a failure to master the adolescent Identity vs. Role Confusion crisis. From the outside it is difficult to accurately make the distinction between a rationally chosen adult eccentricity and a habitual juvenile rebellion, so it shouldn't be terribly surprising when the two are confused.
    Last edited: May 15, 2008
  7. May 15, 2008 #6


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    Then they are wrong.

    Do you have access to a dictionary?

    Someone that is introverted is wholly or predominantly concerned with and interested in one's own mental life. http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/introversion This has nothing to do with maturity.

    Seriously, find a dictionary.
    Last edited: May 15, 2008
  8. May 15, 2008 #7


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    I am lucky to have a large number of friends that would be classified as non-conformists. There is no issue of maturity, believe me. These people range from an Academy Award winning film director to the head of one of the world's most elite academic institutions. It's the fact that they travel to the beat of a different drum that has made them world famous.

    There is nothing immature about them, they have a passion and dedication to what they do that sets them apart. Hey, if you can be referred to as the "world authority" by National Geographic, basically any time any news media calls in "the world's leading authority in..." and in every peer reviewed journal on the subject and have an exhibit dedicated to you in the Smithsonian Institute. I guess you might have made it. :wink:

    Dale, I agree with 11-12 years of age being the point where most children begin to display maturity by deciding what they believe in for themselves, for me it was age 8, but when you say they "will largely resume conformist behavior in their chosen role. " This means most will give up their uniqueness and individuality to become a cog in society. It has nothing to do with the level of maturity of the individual, it's more of a lack of ability to go against what is comfortable and accepted.
    Last edited: May 15, 2008
  9. May 16, 2008 #8
    It's an interesting debate. I know a "Mr Conformity" who I simply find it impossible to attack. At the same time, I am a total non-conformist who hates society around me and feels stifled by the sheer human nonsense of it all. But it is impossible to teach a "conformist" these lessons of mine, I find. I like this guy, he likes good music & movies & stuff, but I hate his sheer "conformist" attitude to life/reality. And I can't attack it. However much I wanna destroy that side of life/reality. I guess we must just learn to live with two sides of life!?
  10. May 16, 2008 #9


    Staff: Mentor

    I am not arguing that your friends are immature, but the mere fact that someone is successful doesn't speak one way or the other to their maturity. There are many lucrative and valuable careers that don't require more than an adolescent level of psychological development.

    There is a normal range of healthy non-conformity in well-adjusted adults, and that range is less than the normal range of healthy non-conformity in adolescents. If you have either too much or too little conformity as an adult then it probably indicates a failure to properly form a self-identity during adolesence which will interfere with their capacity to go on from adolescence and successfully overcome the Intimacy vs. Isolation crisis of young adulthood. If your non-conformist friends have attained world renown but feel isolated then they are immature regardless of professional success. If they have successfully formed intimate relationships then they are well-adjusted and just eccentric.

    Either way, non-conformity is inherently associated with psychological development in adolescence. So even if a person is mature (in the psychological sense) it may not be obvious to casual acquaintances who could reasonably associate the non-conformity with immaturity. I am not saying that the association is inevitable or correct, I am saying that it is reasonable as an assumption and so it shouldn't surprise the OP to have people make that connection.
  11. May 16, 2008 #10
    Then why did you say: "Someone that acts immaturely lacks the... social interaction of someone their age"?

    Evo, your two statements contradict each other. If someone lacks social interaction, they must either be isolated in an uninhabited area, or they must be an introvert.

    Let me break this down further. By your definition:

    Lack social interaction = immature

    Lack social interaction = introvert

    Assuming those two are true, immature = introvert

    A = lack social interaction
    B = immature
    C = introvert

    A = B
    A = C

    Then B = C


    Yes; I've looked up immature in the dictionary. Some dictionaries defined immaturity as childlike. Other dictionaries defined immaturity as being inappropriate. I think that people think that nonconformity= inappropriate. Therefore, nonconformity = immaturity
  12. May 16, 2008 #11


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    It's a single statement. I will clarify
  13. May 16, 2008 #12
  14. May 16, 2008 #13
    One thing I've noticed is the following:

    Nonconformity that one does not mind does not mean immaturity.

    Nonconformity that one dislikes = immaturity
  15. May 16, 2008 #14


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    I don't think that is reasonable at all. I would say that immaturity is a failure to overcome your age-appropriate psychological crisises.

    In that sense, nonconformity in an 8-year-old like Evo was would actually indicate advanced maturity. She had already addressed her age-appropriate psychological crisis and was moving on to the next one. On the other hand non-conformity in an adult that prevents them from meeting normal adult Intimacy and Generativity challenges would be one possible symptom of immaturity.
  16. May 16, 2008 #15

    What is a generativity challenge?

    So nonconformity in an adult that prevents the adult from meeting normal adult intimacy is a type of immaturity? What do you mean exactly by normal adult intimacy?
  17. May 16, 2008 #16


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    I only added a clarification for you since you don't seem to understand that someone that is immature would fail to succesfully socially interact with someone their own age.

    No it doesn't and it is apparent that you don't know what you are talking about.

    Do not post again until you furnish peer reviewed studies that back you up.

    Sorry Dale, but this person is now restricted from posting without furnishing peer reviewed studies which back them up , (in this thread when making claims of facts).

    If you wish to continue, you may.
    Last edited: May 17, 2008
  18. May 17, 2008 #17


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    I mean psychological intimacy or psychosocial intimacy. This is basically opening up, letting another person see the "real you" flaws, imperfections, and all. This is the kind of psychological closeness that is found in successful loving marriages, where each partner revels in being known and accepted for who they really are. It requires a large degree of trust and a definite sense of your own value and worth.

    Let me say that I am an engineer, so I am not an expert in psychology. All of my comments are based on my understanding of Erik Erikson's Stages of Psychosocial Development which I learned about in an Intro to Psychology class in undergrad. Anyway, Erikson's idea impressed me enough that I still remember it and try to use it in my parenting. The Wikipedia article is not really very good, I would recommend a trip to the library for a hard copy book if you are interested.

    Basically, Erikson described the process of maturing in terms of a particular challenge or crisis that must be overcome at each age. Failure to overcome the age-appropriate crisis of one stage puts the individual at a disadvantage in dealing with the crisis of the next stage. A mature individual is one who has mastered all of the age-appropriate challenges, and is thus psychologically equipped to deal with the normal tasks of life. An immature individual has not mastered all of the age-appropriate challenges, and so is ill-equipped to successfully function in normal tasks in life.

    For example, the crisis for ages 7-11 is Industry vs Inferiority. Kids of this age need to have work. They begin to prioritize work over play and establish a sense of their value to others. Failure to do this leaves them with a sense of inferiority, a sense that they are not good at the things they do and not valuable to others. If that sense of inferiority continues into young adulthood then it can make it difficult to form intimate attachments because they don't feel like they can open up to another individual who would then see that they are inferior and not valuable. Instead, they hide their inferiority either by not opening up, even with their romantic or sexual partners, or by seeking out others who they view as inferior like themselves.

    Although I think a restriction is a little extreme, I would recommend James E. Marcia as a good starting point. He was particularly interested in Erikson's stages of adolescense and early adulthood. He has several peer-reviewed articles that describe different forms of identity so you can learn about non-conformity and studies about how those forms of identity impact intimate attachments in early adulthood.
    Last edited: May 17, 2008
  19. May 17, 2008 #18


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    I think there is a bit of merit to both sides of the argument presented here. The reason is that immaturity could certainly qualify as a form of non-conformity (that is, not conforming to behaviors expected of mature adults, such as knowing when it's socially acceptable to make jokes and when it isn't), but the converse is not necessarily true...non-conformity need not be the same as immaturity. Non-conformity that would not be immaturity would be, for example, someone who likes to wear crazy, loud clothing out in public. They know what they are doing, they know to wear appropriate attire when in the workplace, but when they go out to have some fun, they wear something that others would not wear and does not conform to current fashion trends.

    At least the way I view it, maturity is about knowing and accepting the responsibilities that come with age (getting a job, paying the bills on time, doing the chores you'd rather not do because they need to get done), while conformity is more about accepting social rules. These can overlap when the social rules involve getting a job and paying the bills, but can be distinct when they involve things one does for recreation or when all the responsibilities have been taken care of (i.e., attire, sense of humor, preferences for music and movies/film/theater, hair color or body piercings or tattoos, etc.)
  20. Jul 30, 2008 #19
    I would suggest that immature = convenient insult that isn’t particularly vulgar on the face of it, and so can be handed out with little fear of rebuke, and some non-conformists are fairly obviously differentiable from the majority of the populace. Being obviously different from the majority makes it less likely for someone to come to the defense of said non-conformist getting mildly insulted.

    Therefore, suggesting a non-conformist is immature is a fairly safe way to insult someone with little risk of being publicly called a jerk.
  21. Jul 30, 2008 #20
    I think that the terms immaturity and non-conformity in general use are rather broad terms that are primarily subjective and have a tendency to overlap. There are many forms of non-conformity that can be viewed as immature and vice versa. They both have alot to do with culture. For example a person who comes to the united states and does not learn the language or give up customs that are rather divergent from those of united states citizens would be considered non-conformist. But really they are only conforming to the standards of the culture from which they came. If they went back to their country of origin they would be conformists.
    As for immaturity there are several cultural expectations of 'adults'. In many cultures one of these is getting married and having a monogamous relationship. One could easily argue that there is a psychological component to this but is it maybe a chicken and egg scenario? Is it unhealthy to not conform to this behavior in general or is it often unhealthy only due to the cultural conditioning which sets this up as an expectation of maturity? Is polyamory immature, non-conformist, or both? Or maybe neither depending on the culture you were raise in.
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