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


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.

Animal Behavior and Social Media

By David Dillard-Wright Ph.D. on March 12, 2017 in Boundless
What can we learn about human online behavior by watching other species? Social interaction has the potential for both peace-making and aggression.

Does "Sully" Reveal How To Cope With Anxiety?

The flight recording of the final 2.5 minutes of Flight 1549 are extraordinary for the coolness and business-like words of its pilot.

Living With No Regrets

Nothing is sadder than to live a life you later wish you had done differently. You can take steps to prevent that now.

What Ever Happened to Basic Human Decency?

By Grant H. Brenner M.D. on February 28, 2017 in ExperiMentations
Integrity and hard work used to be considered the highest character traits. Nowadays, more often than not, people seem to only be looking for short-cuts.

Has Your Therapist Been Replaced by a Robot?

By Michael Karson Ph.D., J.D. on February 28, 2017 in Feeling Our Way
A therapist who can’t pass the Turing Test (a computer’s ability to pass for human in conversation) should not be allowed to graduate.

Polite Doctors are Safer Doctors

Little things like polite communication and consistent use of basic safety habits can mean the difference between life and death medical care.

Happiness Through Solitude

By Marty Nemko Ph.D. on February 09, 2017 in How To Do Life
Another in my series on people who prefer to be alone.

Speaking of Marriage

How often does it happen that partners decide to put the couple before themselves as individuals?

Politics and Poison: Casualties of Fake News

The FDA warns that some natural remedies contain poison. Meanwhile partisan rhetoric poisons the body politic.

Arousing Curiosity May Help Take the Politics Out of Science

By Christopher Bergland on February 01, 2017 in The Athlete's Way
A new Yale-led study has pinpointed a simple antidote that may help us take the politics out of science.

Crowd Size, Line Length, and Conformity

By Ira Hyman Ph.D. on January 30, 2017 in Mental Mishaps
When you quietly agree with the statements of a group, how does conforming change you? Can you retain your original views? Does conforming alter the way you see the world?

The Silenced Majority

By Marty Nemko Ph.D. on January 21, 2017 in How To Do Life
To avoid Civil War II, we must encourage moderates to speak up.

Bullying, Identity, and the "Escape from Freedom"

“If humanity cannot live with the dangers and responsibilities inherent in freedom, it will probably turn to authoritarianism.” Erich Fromm, 1941.

A Reclusive Twin

By Marty Nemko Ph.D. on January 15, 2017 in How To Do Life
The latest in my series of interviews with people who'd rather be alone.

6 Ways to Stand Out From the Crowd

Going along with the crowd seems to be our default mode, as supported by recent neuroscience research. These six tips will give you the skills to stand out.

“I Thought Being an Introvert was Abnormal”

By Marty Nemko Ph.D. on January 03, 2017 in How To Do Life
An interview with a loner.

Top Excuses for Trashing the Planet (and Other People)

By Kenneth Worthy Ph.D. on December 31, 2016 in The Green Mind
What are your favorite excuses for complacency in the face of environmental destruction? And what are your favorite ways of being a good Earth citizen?

Is It a Marriage If...?

By Seth Slater M.F.A. on December 30, 2016 in The Dolphin Divide
Does human matrimony reflect our animal nature?

Could Online Dating Help You Find the One?

By Donna Barstow on December 29, 2016 in Ink Blots Cartoons
Dare to step inside these raging waters.

New Book: The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck

By Jennifer Haupt on December 27, 2016 in One True Thing
Caring less can actually lead to more happiness, better relationships, and greater success. Here's how.

Why Donita Sparks Is a Subversive Ray of Hope

By Michael Friedman Ph.D. on December 22, 2016 in Brick by Brick
As the leader of the seminal band L7, Donita Sparks has no time for what you think of her.

Madonna's Tenacity: Naysayers Can Be a Source of Motivation

By Christopher Bergland on December 15, 2016 in The Athlete's Way
Madonna's "2016 Woman of the Year" speech at the Billboard awards offers fresh clues for ways to reframe the cynicism of naysayers and turn vitriol into a source of inspiration.

People Who Will Say Anything to Win an Argument

By Jeremy E Sherman Ph.D. on December 13, 2016 in Ambigamy
You suspect that they'll say anything to win, but how can you tell for sure? You can't, but you can make good educated guesses.

Holiday Party Attire: Captivate Through Creativity and Class

By Wendy L. Patrick Ph.D. on December 08, 2016 in Why Bad Looks Good
Out of the office but on the clock? Take advantage of the opportunity to dress to impress, making your holiday party the most wonderful workplace celebration of the year.

To Punish or to Teach?

How we handle mistakes can make a difference.