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

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Choosing Children’s Surnames

Conventionally, women take their husband’s surname, as do any children. But as married women increasingly retain their birth surnames, how do couples decide on children’s surnames?

Unsung

By Marty Nemko Ph.D. on June 08, 2017 in How To Do Life
A short-short story about worth

The "Battered Voter" Syndrome

By Karl Albrecht Ph.D. on June 04, 2017 in BrainSnacks
The "battered spouse" syndrome has a counterpart in a "battered voter" syndrome, if people hold a dependent attachment to an "ideological package" inimical to their own interests.

Taking One's Cue from Others

By Nigel Barber Ph.D. on May 31, 2017 in The Human Beast
All social animals are affected by what others around them are doing. Humans are no exception.

Is Hair Down There Going, Going, Gone?

An increasingly large majority of American women (84 percent) and men (51 percent) now trim, shape, or completely shave their public hair. What, if anything, does this mean?

Dangers in Child Sex-tech Communications

Are you aware of developing communication technologies that your kids may engage that involving sexual content? Have you addressed with them strategies to avoid such exchanges?

To See Your Status Soar, Be More Curious

Next time you leave an algorithm to decide your choices, consider what this is doing to your curiosity quotient -- and why it matters.

Behave Yourself: Moral Behavior and Conformity

By Eyal Winter Ph.D. on May 27, 2017 in Feeling Smart
Should we induce our kids to conform?

Be the One

This is not a drill: As right-wing totalitarian governments try to take over the world, it's up to us to do something. Let's grab our capes.

The Science Behind Why People Follow the Crowd

By Rob Henderson on May 24, 2017 in After Service
You think you are in control of your own thoughts and behavior. But social psychology tells a different story.

How to Get Work Done in a Politically Charged Office

Read these tips to stay sane and productive while avoiding political dialogue.

Why Social Stigma Matters

Hate crimes are on the rise. New research helps to explain why.

Cat People and Dog People Do Have Different Personalities

Data shows that cat people are introverted and nonconforming but also creative, while dog people are warm, sociable and pragmatic.

The Struggle for Awe in a Robotic Age

The cry for awe—the humility and wonder, and the sense of adventure toward living—in an age of devices and programming.

I Thought I Was Damaged Goods!

Why don't many patients treat what they can? Why don't some doctors notice that patients feel hopeless when they shouldn't and guilty when they are aren't?

Finding Meaning After Losing Faith

Young people who question everything may be born into communities that insist it is wrong to doubt their religion. Here's the story of one who got away and found his own meaning.

How and Why Societal Elites Manipulate Public Fear

By Scott A. Bonn Ph.D. on April 30, 2017 in Wicked Deeds
Public fear over an alleged social problem is mutually beneficial to state officials—that is, politicians, law enforcement authorities and the news media.

Bret Stephens: Out Of The Bubble

Pulitzer Prize winning Bret Stephens makes some readers of the New York Times uncomfortable, and some, angry. He says that's his job. But many readers want him fired for his views.

Five Ways to Fit in With Just About Any Crowd

There are times for individuality but other times when you want to blend into the crowd. New research on conformity and mental health suggests how to gain acceptance.

Police 'Blue Wall of Silence' Facilitates Domestic Assault

The “blue wall of silence”—an unwritten code to protect fellow officers from investigation—perpetuates domestic violence in officers' homes.

When Effects Are Invisible: From Comfort to Freedom

What is it that makes the existing global system continue to function with our ongoing participation, when so many of us know how close to the edge of catastrophe we are?

The Emily Houser Hate Party

18 year old Emily Houser reported her boss for sexual harassment. Her co-workers response? A “F*ck Emily Houser” hate party—complete with a sheet cake expressing that sentiment

How to Avoid "Daring" Behavior

Unlike the innocent childhood game, playing "Truth or Dare" with sexual predators is a lose-lose proposition. Read this before accepting a challenge you will later regret.

Thinking Beyond the Third Dimension

By Gayil Nalls Ph.D. on April 07, 2017 in Sensoria
What mathematicians know to be true is astounding, and none of it informs any of the discussions we're having.

Life as a Banana

Assimilation can be good for Asian Americans' mental health. But there may be hidden benefits of being Asian in the United States.
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Can Conformity Be Creative?

By Thomas Ward Ph.D. on March 22, 2017 in Creativity for You
You want to be original and creative. Can copying someone else's example actually help you do that?

Social Norms, Moral Judgments, and Irrational Parenting

By Peter Gray Ph.D. on March 19, 2017 in Freedom to Learn
We are all conformists; it’s part of human nature. But sometimes our conformist nature leads us to do things that are downright silly or, worse, tragic.

Silencing Is Golden: The Chilling Dogma of AntiNormalization

Many college students are unable to debate bad ideas because they aren't learning the difference between a firmly held opinion and a self-evident truth.

Do Only Dead Fish Swim With the Stream?

Many people's long-term romantic behavior is similar to dead fish floating with the current, slowly drifting with the stream. Is such behavior damaging? Not always, it would seen.

The Better Angels of Our Nature

By Hank Davis on March 14, 2017 in Caveman Logic
It sometimes seems impossible to find those "better angels" inside ourselves and resist the lure of of meanness and bigotry that's all around us.