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

Psychology Of How War With Islamic State Becomes A Just War

Professor Fotion points out that another ancient Chinese philosopher, Mo Tzu (470 – 391 BC) distinguished between three kinds of war, which again ominously, but unerringly, predicts modern hostilities in the Middle East. Mo Tzu contends that any analysis of whether a war is ‘just’ or not depends on whether you are engaged in a war of aggression, punishment or self-defence.

How Making Colleges 'Safe Spaces' Makes Us All Less Safe

After years of colleges’ efforts to cultivate tolerance on their campuses, college students may be less tolerant than ever.

Replication Problems in Psychology

By Jeremy D. Safran Ph.D. on November 15, 2015 Straight Talk
A major research study recently found that many well known findings in psychology are difficult to replicate.This study and the media attention it has received have led to a considerable stir within the field. While some minimize the importance of these findings, they do rekindle longstanding debates about what kind of 'science' psychology is.

The Paris Attack and the Power of Destructive Beliefs

You can control what people feel and do by controlling their beliefs. Is that ISIS’s secret weapon?

My Gay Voice and Yours

The great documentary "Do I Sound Gay," explores the cultural misogyny and homophobia that inhibits all of our voices. We can all benefit form challenging these norms and allowing ourselves more freedom to listen and to have authentic voices of our own, regardless of our gender, gender expression, or sexual orientation.

Hardening Of The Smarteries

By Jeremy E Sherman Ph.D. on November 02, 2015 Ambigamy
Strange that there doesn't seem to be a clinical name for pathological know-it-all-ness especially given how epidemic it can become.

The Surprising Power of an Uncomfortable Brain

By Garth Sundem on October 27, 2015 Brain Trust
What happens when surroundings don't match your expectations? A new series of experiments shows that this "cultural dysfluency" shocks your brain off autopilot and back into thinking.


It is both the strength and the weakness of this film that it brings to life what 'every student knows' in a way that is both compelling and entertaining.

The High Cost of Conformity, and How to Avoid It

By Peter Bregman on October 21, 2015 How We Work
I suffered a pretty dramatic crash, falling down a ravine, flipping over a few times, and hitting my (helmeted) head on a tree. Eventually, I ended up in the emergency room. But not before riding another hour. Why didn’t I stop?

What Really Happens When a Couple Splits

By Jeremy E Sherman Ph.D. on October 19, 2015 Ambigamy
Why do exes say such harsh things about each other? Why, in breakups of all kinds do we go from being able to do no wrong to being able to do no right? After years of harmonizing stories, breakups lead us to tell divergent stories.

Angry Young Feminists

By Karen L Smith MSS, LCSW on September 29, 2015 Full Living
Here is my current contribution the perennial debate about why some folks hate feminists and the concept of feminism. I am going to “blame” it on angry young feminists. Okay, I don’t really mean I am going to blame it on them, but I am going to speculate on how the period of waking up to sexism effects young women and the people around them.

From Should to Could to Wow! Living Your Best Life

By Bella DePaulo Ph.D. on September 29, 2015 Living Single
In his review of "How We Live Now: Redefining Home and Family in the 21st Century" in the Los Angeles Review of Books, Hugh Ryan told me what I've been doing with my life the last two decades.

How Long Does Adolescence Last?

By Fredric Neuman M.D. on September 21, 2015 Fighting Fear
Adolescence, the stage between childhood and adulthood, involves progress along a number of developmental pathways.

Buying a Pig in a Poke

By Robert J King Ph.D. on September 21, 2015 Hive Mind
What psychologists might say about the David Cameron initiation story.

Does Anyone Still Believe in Hard Work?

A ‘work ethic’ is about the idea that working hard is intrinsically a good thing to do. This means that the unemployed will suffer more psychologically, if they hold a strong ‘work ethic.’

Is Your Learning Style Paranoid?

By Kirby Farrell Ph.D. on September 20, 2015 A Swim in Denial
We learn—and grow—by engaging with anomalies: new things that don't fit our familiar categories. It's a gut process, not just a philosophical choice. Anxiety can make us paranoid about what's new and strange. Knowing that can spur fascination and help us to adapt.

Pubic Shaving: Which Women? And Why?

By Michael Castleman M.A. on September 15, 2015 All About Sex
In pubic shaving the new normal?

Are Transgender Women Just Reinforcing Sexist Stereotypes?

By Deborah L. Davis Ph.D. on September 15, 2015 Laugh, Cry, Live
How is gender identity formed? Are masculinity and femininity just oppressive stereotypes? Would transgender women, like Caitlin Jenner, exist if men were free to wear dresses? Modern brain research reveals how sex differences, hormones, and experiences influence gender identity and expression.

Which Common Educational Myth Limits Student Achievement?

By Bobby Hoffman Ph.D. on September 11, 2015 Motivate!
Misconceptions about teaching and learning are abundant, but there is one single and very common false belief that impacts effective instruction more than anything else. Do you know what it is?

The Psychology Behind the Pumpkin Spice Fad

By Jordan Gaines Lewis on September 11, 2015 Brain Babble
Why do we get so obsessed with pumpkin spice everything this time of year? Here's the psychology behind the craze.

Just How Narcissistic Are US Presidents? Does Ego Rule?

42 U.S. presidents up to and including George W. Bush were assessed as being greater Presidents if they scored higher on narcissism....This investigation... found higher narcissism in personality was also positively associated with better public persuasiveness, improved crisis management, superior agenda setting, winning more of the popular vote...

In Praise of Being Judgmental

By Marty Nemko Ph.D. on September 07, 2015 How To Do Life
We're allowed to say that an idea or a person is different but to say it or s/he is better is risky. What a shame!

Understanding the Internal World of Psychosis

For the psychotic individual to be understood, empathy regarding his emotional experience might make a significant difference in his psychopathology and his relationship with the world. It is possible to understand his emotion and his fear, his cognition—to an extent—and his obvious alienation. Ways to address this individual in therapy are discussed in this article.

Opinion Polls Reveal Dramatic Decline in Impact of the Bible

Opinion poll surveys representative of the general population began in Britain in 1937, with the launch of the British Institute of Public Opinion (later Gallup Poll), which first covered the Bible in a question in 1938: "What book of all you have read impressed you most?" The Bible was mentioned by 16% of interviewees.

The Disposable Person—Being Unvalued in the Modern Age

Do you ever get the funny feeling that something isn't right? Not to make trouble or anything—but maybe you are right. Do you feel like you’re in a state of chronic interview, a cog in the system, a rat the race, and that seemingly significant people in your life—in romance and at work—may not care about you as a human being? Here's why...

Can You Lose Your Eyesight for Psychological Reasons?

What is referred to as 'medically unexplained visual loss' or non-organic visual loss (NOVL), is reported to occur in 1 to 5% of patients attending ophthalmology clinics. In many cases it continues without improvement for an extended period.

Plot a Coup Against the Status Quo

By Jake Breeden on August 16, 2015 Tipping Sacred Cows
It’s hard to change your company’s culture, in part, because it’s hard to see how the culture works to preserve itself.

Countering Sad Politically Incorrect Syndrome

By Marty Nemko Ph.D. on August 10, 2015 How To Do Life
Being out of step with the times can be dispiriting and tough to cure.

Why Monogamy Isn't

This blog explores some of the current cultural expressions of monogamy including hookup culture, serial monogamy, and the many new ways people can find access to cheating online. While monogamy is still the dominant cultural form, it is not inherently good in all instances. Monogamy is as open to flaws as are other forms of relationship.

The Cult of Barre

The fusion of yoga, pilates, and ballet in one sounds may sound enticing...but the reality can be less than desirable.