The Pull of Conformity

Conformity is the tendency to align your attitudes, beliefs, and behaviors with those around you. It's a powerful force that can take the form of overt social pressure or subtler unconscious influence. As much as we like to think of ourselves as individuals, the fact is that we're driven to fit in, and that usually means going with the flow.

Recent Posts on Conformity

Heavy Shifting

By Alain Samson Ph.D. on February 25, 2015 in Consumed
Resolved to go to the gym? Now help us solve a common problem at the gym.

Why Everyone Should Try Being Invisible

In The New York Times, Akiko Busch heralds the virtues of invisibility, contrasting with trends of increasing narcissism. I add my own personal perspective, drawing on Taoism as well as some of my favorite superheroes and comics.

Can Other People Make You Less Creative?

By Liane Gabora Ph.D. on February 06, 2015 in Mindbloggling
Do you sometimes feel more creative when you are alone? Though it is widely believed that stimulating environments enhance creativity this is not always the case. People may send out social signals to each other to conform, thereby ensuring that creativity--the process that fuels cultural novelty--is balanced by conformity--the process that perpetuates successful novelty.

Well Hung and Happy, Right?

By Rick Miller LICSW on February 05, 2015 in Unwrapped
The media tells us who we are – and are not. The vast majority of us are too this, and not enough that. And for gay men, one message certainly is clear: “size does matter.”

Love In The Era Of Microaggressions

By J. R. Bruns M.D. on February 02, 2015 in Repairing Relationships
Sorry is the easiest word in the era of microaggression.

The Effects of Synchrony on Conformity

By Art Markman Ph.D. on January 27, 2015 in Ulterior Motives
Teams tend to do things together. Soldiers march in step. Athletic teams do stretches and simple drills together as a unit. In public schools, all students repeat phrases together like the Pledge of Allegiance. At stadiums, fans will chant together and make similar movements.

Defining the Competent Psychiatrist

What is a competent psychiatrist? Harsh critics declare the question moot, official bodies print long lists of "competencies." Is the answer in between? What does it take to understand and help troubled people?

The 3 Worst Things We Learned As Children

These three belief systems are both the most common and the most toxic beliefs we develop as children.

How to Build a Revolution

By John Corcoran on December 15, 2014 in Making Connections Count
Chris Guillebeau is the most unassuming leader of a revolution you might ever meet. A prolific writer and world traveler, the soft-spoken Guillebeau is the founder of the popular World Domination Summit, a conference held in Portland, Oregon each July.

Modern Marriage

By Mark O'Connell L.C.S.W. on December 11, 2014 in Quite Queerly
We can use the imagination and the will to adapt that allowed us to claim meaningful partnerships in the face of adversity--and against all odds--to remain awake, alive, and engaged with our spouses, well beyond our wedding days.

Do Personality Traits and Values Form a Coherent Whole?

Personality psychologists are currently attempting to create more comprehensive theories that integrate many different components of personality. According to Life History Theory there is a general factor of personality that combines all personality traits in a specific way. However, attempting to integrate personal values with traits poses problems for this model.

Are You Vulnerable to the Hipster Effect?

By David DiSalvo on December 02, 2014 in Neuronarrative
There is a group-sense inherent in human nature that lines us up favorably with birds and bees and ants and fish, though with us the dynamic is less reactive. Rather than reacting to an immediate cause, our patterns emerge in the form of social conformity. The irony is that we (particularly in Western cultures) pride ourselves on our alleged individuality.

Parental Adjustment to the Adolescent's "Family" of Friends

As adolescents grow to independence, they grow an independent "family" of friends that can seem to compete with the importance of parents and biological family. Although parents can be less of a social priority during the teenage years, however, they remain an ongoing source of historical, current, and future love.

The Secret of Self-Esteem

By Neel Burton M.D. on November 20, 2014 in Hide and Seek
Where does self-esteem really come from?

Cool Kids

By Stephen Gray Wallace on November 18, 2014 in Decisions Teens Make
Being popular may be losing popularity

YouTube and Me, or the Death of Classroom Documentaries?

By Dana S Dunn Ph.D. on November 11, 2014 in Head of the Class
Why do otherwise intelligent and motivated college students struggle to watch documentaries? Can--should--anything be done? Or, should psychology instructors just go with quick, cute, default downloads from YouTube and move on?

Freethinkers, Reason, and Religion

By Michael W Austin on November 07, 2014 in Ethics for Everyone
This should not be the case: "As soon as someone tells me--straight-faced--they are a 'free thinker,' I can immediately guess what they think about almost everything."

The Problem of Desire

By Neel Burton M.D. on November 06, 2014 in Hide and Seek
The psychology and philosophy of desire.

4 Reasons Why Your Personality May Not Matter

How much of our behavior is caused by our personalities, and how much is caused by other factors? You might be surprised by when, how, and why personality doesn't matter.

First Impressions: A Roadmap or a Roadblock?

By Russ Gerber on November 06, 2014 in Our Health
Labels and expectations are pinned on us at every turn. Are we adopting them?

Redefining Masculinity for the Greater Good

By Judy Y. Chu Ed.D. on November 04, 2014 in When Boys Become Boys
Increasingly common patterns of violence committed by boys call for new definitions of masculinity that will affirm rather than diminish boys' humanity.

What Is An Intelligent Personality?

Some theorists argue that intelligence and socially desirable personality traits naturally go together. However, lay people associate intelligence with a mix of desirable and undesirable personality traits, such as disagreeableness. The relationship between personality and intelligence may be more complicated than is suggested by grand unitary theories.

Why She Feels The Way She Does?

By Shahram Heshmat Ph.D. on October 24, 2014 in Science of Choice
Indeed, learning to tolerate or accept negative affect as it is, and focus on problem solving are important skills for the treatment of addiction.

Retraining Our Brain’s Software in the Digital Age

From the beginning of a career spanning more than 40 years, Dave Sabey has sought out people with a fresh perspective, an inspired vision and a relentless sense of purpose. We spoke with Dave about technology, training your subconscious and snapping yourself out of bad moods when they strike.

A Theory of Ten Universal Values

By Gregg Henriques on October 19, 2014 in Theory of Knowledge
This blog summarizes a prominent theory of ten universal values and how it overlaps with the unified approach. I have found much to like about Schwartz’s theory of universal values. I also believe there is much value in building bridges between this work and the unified approach.

Happy Families Are Not All Alike

By Carrie Barron M.D. on October 17, 2014 in The Creativity Cure
A strong, positive family experience can bolster psyches and make individuals able. However it can be a challenge to achieve with current stressors or past traumas. Some families of origin did not model well or still create strife. There are ways to move on. Here are 19 suggestions for a harmonious home and moments of happiness. Do it your way.

Psychology’s Scientism and Anthropology’s Anti-Science

Over the past few decades, the scientific study of culture has become marginalized, in very different ways, in both psychology and anthropology. Social phenomena exist at a social level of organization; but scientistic and anti-science trends impede progress in understanding them.

What Do Heroes and Psychopaths Have in Common?

Recent research looks at whether heroes and psychopaths are "twigs from the same branch." People who have performed heroic actions to help others often have a history of antisocial behavior as well. There may be loose connections between heroism and having "psychopathic" qualities, but the reasons for this remain unclear.

How Important is our Privacy?

By Gabriel C. S. Gavin on September 14, 2014 in Wiring the Mind
Government surveillance has become a widely debated issue. Despite assurances that its use is justified, research shows that it is profoundly damaging to our wellbeing and often fails to achieve its purpose.

Choosing Relationships

Share common values, yet avoid unnecessary conflict.