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

Mandeville's Paradox: Springtime for Machiavellians

Convincing someone that virtue is vice and vice is virtue is a familiar manipulative tactic.

I'm Free. I Just Do What I Want, Say What I Want

Long-term, romantic relationships always involve compromise. But how much compromise is too much?
Mike Mozart, used under Creative Commons License

The Downside of Having Nothing to Hide

By David Berreby on October 19, 2016 in The Outsourced Mind
Soon, we'll all know a lot more about each other's motives, in real time. And it won't be pretty.

The Bizarre Outbreak of Hallucinations in Oregon

By Robert Bartholomew Ph.D. on October 19, 2016 in It's Catching
A mysterious outbreak of hallucinations has U.S. authorities baffled.

Pre-Suasion: Before You Try to Persuade Someone…

In Pre-Suasion, Robert Cialdini asks: What is most important if you want to persuade? Hint: it’s not so much what’s IN your message, as in what happens in the moment just BEFORE.

8 Ways to Stop Worrying About What Everyone Thinks of You

For some people, anxiety is the defining characteristic of their interactions with others. But it doesn’t have to be that way.

Clown Scare to Grow Violent, then Subside after Halloween

By Robert Bartholomew Ph.D. on October 15, 2016 in It's Catching
It's likely to get worse before it gets better.

What's Wrong With Locker Room Talk?

In the wake of Donald Trump's lewd comments, there's a debate about whether "locker room talk" is really all that bad.

The Great Clown Scare of 2016

By Robert Bartholomew Ph.D. on October 07, 2016 in It's Catching
Have no fear—The Great Clown Panic will soon be history

Can Society Exist Without Authoritarianism?

By Michael Aaron, Ph.D. on October 07, 2016 in Standard Deviations
Despite much social progress, authoritarianism continues to exist. Studies show authoritarian traits are common. We must ask ourselves "Can society exist without authoritarianism?"

The Psychology of Being Middle Class

Poll after poll reveals that most Americans think they’re part of the middle class even if they’re clearly not.

Are You Avoiding Your Fate?

Are you avoiding doing what you're supposed to do with your life? The Old Testament story of Jonah has a message for you.

Psychology's Crisis Isn't New

By Jonathan Wai Ph.D. on September 30, 2016 in Finding the Next Einstein
What is new is the public attention and change that’s generating. In addition to the replication crisis, here are some other problems with the field that need addressing.

The Glory of Doubt

By Hank Davis on September 27, 2016 in Caveman Logic
It takes courage and integrity to express Doubt. Faith is not always a virtue. In fact, it may be a central human failing and we should stop glorifying it.

Guilt and Shame

Guilt and shame are two rather different negative emotions which are often confused. In both cases, people feel bad about themselves—but that is where the similarity ends.

College Students: Coddled or Constructive Activists?

By Saul Levine M.D. on September 19, 2016 in Our Emotional Footprint
Today, college students are expressing dissatisfaction and even feel threatened, but this is often more about their personal feelings rather than the chaotic state of the world.

A Weird Trick To Free Yourself From Your Identity

By Gleb Tsipursky Ph.D. on September 19, 2016 in Intentional Insights
Are you worried about your identity labels limiting your freedom? This simple reframing trick could be all you need!

Were the 1970s Better or Worse Than the 60s?

Ah, the 1970s, when we used our own heads as one giant roller. When Jade East, English Leather, Herbal Essence, Jonathan Livingston Seagull and Pursettes filled our backpacks.

The Other Einstein—Was There One?

By Susan Newman Ph.D. on September 13, 2016 in Singletons
At what point can a writer legitimately cross the line between fact and fiction?

Unwavering and Too Proud of It

By Jeremy E Sherman Ph.D. on September 12, 2016 in Ambigamy
Don't mistake poor impulse control for uncompromising principle.

Why Do British Accents Sound Intelligent to Americans?

By Kevin Bennett on September 09, 2016 in Modern Minds
My American baby is speaking British! Is it still acceptable to discriminate based on accent?

“Ex-Gay” Conversion Therapy Movement Puts Lives at Risk

By Robert T Muller Ph.D. on September 01, 2016 in Talking About Trauma
Conversion therapy is still a common practice, and still compromises mental health.

Phantom Clowns in South Carolina Are Nothing New

By Robert Bartholomew Ph.D. on August 31, 2016 in It's Catching
Reports of Phantom Clowns in South Carolina luring children into the woods, are most likely a matter for folklorists, not police

Is Authenticity Worth It?

When others won’t accept us as we are, what do we do? We must choose between two important values.

Admit It, You Are Secretly Voting for Donald Trump? Right?

Many people will not follow their expressed views with their vote. These stealth voters will hit the ballot box en masse in November. But will they make a difference?

Proclaiming Your Wabi-Sabi Is a Cathartic Antidote for Shame

By Christopher Bergland on August 27, 2016 in The Athlete's Way
You don't have to be a Zen Buddhist to embrace the power of wabi-sabi. Publicly acknowledging your imperfections can make you immune to the isolation created by shame.

When It Comes to Sex, What's Really 'Normal'?

By Michael Aaron, Ph.D. on August 26, 2016 in Standard Deviations
Recent research shows that, when it comes to sex, people are kinkier than we realize.

How to Stay True to Yourself in Your Relationship

Feeling that you can be authentic in your relationships is one of the keys to fulfillment. New research gives you the tools to see how well you measure up.

Nonconformity Has Counter-Intuitive Benefits, Study Finds

By Christopher Bergland on August 22, 2016 in The Athlete's Way
A new study reports that going along with a group—whose viewpoints you are diametrically opposed to—triggers a physiological threat response.