The Biological Bases of Conformity


However, findings from partial and modified replications of Milgram’s procedures conducted in recent years suggest that people respond to the situation today much like they did a half a century ago . The so-called Blue Guide , contains guidance on the application of all aspects of the implementation of EU products rules, including conformity assessments.

The mistake might have been amusing, except the second participant gave the same answer. As did the third, the fourth, and the fifth participant. Suddenly the real participant was in a difficult situation. His eyes told him one thing, but five out of five people apparently saw something else.

Why We Conform

Overall there is a trend towards conformity and predictability. The calculated ages taken at face value clearly are not in conformity with the stratigraphy. If general conformity to a practice is absent, then there is no possibility that he can contribute to such a practice. Prisons are sites that seed isolation, conformity, order, and containment of body and mind. Instead, it opted for what it saw as the safer path of conformity. Non-conformity with the specifications given in this notice is likely to lead to delay in publication.

What is the positive effect of conformity?

Conformity makes the work easier for everyone.

People who choose to take this path want to see their society continue to benefit others in positive ways. One of the outcomes of this process is to distribute work fairly throughout the group.

Milgram found lower status types obeyed orders more readily. Conversely, higher status people, or those who feel they are more competent at the task in question, are more likely to resist group pressure.

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Modern scientific studies comparing conformity in Japan and the United States show that Americans conform in general as much as the Japanese and, in some situations, even more. Conformity is the tendency to change our perceptions, opinions, or behaviors in ways that are consistent with group norms. Norms are implicit, specific rules shared by a group of individuals on how they should behave.

  • Besides that, this experiment proved that conformity is powerful, but also fragile.
  • These areas are known as “nonattainment areas” or “maintenance areas,” respectively.
  • A brief identification of the testing or performance or other characteristics of the device or process that would be addressed by a declaration of conformity.
  • Whereas majorities can often gain compliance regardless of member’s underlying attitudes, active minorities must truly persuade group members.

Eagly and Chrvala examined the role of age (under 19 years vs. 19 years and older), gender and surveillance (anticipating responses to be shared with group members vs. not anticipating responses being shared) on conformity to group opinions. They discovered that among participants that were 19 years or older, females conformed to group opinions more so than males when under surveillance (i.e., anticipated that their responses would be shared with group members). However, there were no gender differences in conformity among participants who were under 19 years of age and in surveillance conditions. There were also no gender differences when participants were not under surveillance. In a subsequent research article, Eagly suggests that women are more likely to conform than men because of lower status roles of women in society. She suggests that more submissive roles (i.e., conforming) are expected of individuals that hold low status roles.

Sherif Autokinetic Effect Experiment

Research has also found that as individuals become more aware that they disagree with the majority they feel more pressure, and hence are more likely to conform to the decisions of the group. Likewise, when responses must be made face-face, individuals increasingly conform, and therefore conformity increases as the anonymity of the response in a group decreases. Conformity also increases when individuals have committed themselves to the group making decisions. Another form of minority influence can sometimes override conformity effects and lead to unhealthy group dynamics. A 2007 review of two dozen studies by the University of Washington found that a single “bad apple” can substantially increase conflicts and reduce performance in work groups.

  • Our website is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment.
  • Product legislation describes the conformity assessment procedures for each product.
  • It follows a review by SGS product specialists of reports from verification activities such as laboratory testing, physical inspection and factory audits.
  • The FDA may recognize all, part, or none of a standard established by a national or international SDO.
  • In another series of experiments, the American psychologist Solomon Asch assembled groups of seven to nine people for a study on visual perception.
  • Sherif found that when groups of three people were brought together and asked to say out loud how far a light moved, their judgments gradually converged.

As an individual grows older, the social pressure to conform with group norms becomes stronger. Established group members may use a variety of tactics to persuade outsiders to conform, including praising, criticizing, bullying, or modeling “correct” behavior. As much as most people like to think of themselves as unique individuals, in reality, humans are social beings—and for the sake of group cohesion, people are evolutionarily driven to fit in. That usually means copying the actions of others, looking to the group when deciding how to think or behave, or doing what is “expected” based on widely accepted social norms. When asked individually, the participants’ answers varied considerably. When asked as part of a group, however, Sherif found that the responses converged toward a central mean. Sherif’s results, published in 1935, demonstrated that in an ambiguous situation, people will conform to the group, an example of informational influence.

Minority influence

Transportation conformity (“conformity”) is a way to ensure that Federal funding and approval goes to those transportation activities that are consistent with air quality goals. These areas are known as “nonattainment areas” or “maintenance areas,” respectively. The definition of conformity is similarity or harmony, or the following of rules and social norms. Social psychologists are fond of saying that we are all influenced by the people around us more than we recognize. Of course, each person is unique, and ultimately each of us makes choices about how we will and will not act. But decades of research on conformity and obedience make it clear that we live in a social world and that—for better or worse—much of what we do is a reflection of the people we encounter.


Accordance, agreement, chime, conformance, conformation, congruence, congruity, correspondence, harmonization, harmony, keeping. Excessive conformity is usually caused by fear of disapproval. The prime minister is, in conformity with the constitution, chosen by the president.

First Known Use of conformity

Cultural evolutionists used the term conformity to describe a particular learning rule by which an individual was disproportionately likely to adopt the majority decision (see Boyd and Richerson, 1985, p.206, see Figure ​ Figure1). Variations of Asch’s procedures have been conducted numerous times (Bond, 2005; Bond & Smith, 1996). This last finding is consistent with the notion that participants change their answers because they are concerned about what others think of them. Finally, although we see the effect in virtually every culture that has been studied, more conformity is found in collectivist countries such as Japan and China than in individualistic countries such as the United States (Bond & Smith, 1996).


People may be susceptible to conform to group norms because they want to gain acceptance from their group. Because informational influence is based on insecurity about one’s beliefs, one would expect it to be more common when an individual feels dependent on others for information. Consistently with that assumption, people exhibit more conformity when they are working on ambiguous tasks than on unambiguous tasks. In addition, they conform more when they have doubts about their own task competence and when they think other group members are highly competent in the task. Two lines of research have had a great impact on views of conformity.

Informational Conformity

Consider a classic study conducted many years ago by Solomon Asch . The participants were male college students who were asked to engage in a seemingly simple task.

  • Honoring, observance – conformity with law or custom or practice etc.
  • Conformity motivated by deference to authority or fear of punishment is likely to be harmful.
  • At its worst, though, it can bring out a person’s darkest impulses and even be used to justify—and carry out—large-scale atrocities.
  • A study of nurses found almost universal compliance with drs. orders, even when they were told to give overdoses.

They argued for two goals on the part of the subject, one to be correct, but a second to earn positive appraisal from others through agreement. The former is an informational goal, the latter a normative goal. As the simplicity of the task in the Asch experiments seems to preclude an informational goal, it has been argued that the subjects were conforming in order to achieve a normative reward, received by being in agreement with your group mates. Surprisingly given this, Deutsch and Gerard found that some subjects would still choose the clearly incorrect answer even when they made their decision in the absence of confederates. They took this to mean that the confederates were also exerting some informational influence and that the subjects may really have believed the group decisions. An alternative explanation is that, even when apparently isolated, individuals may find normative tendencies hard to resist. The fourth of Tinbergen’s questions, ontogeny, is one area that the study of conformity has left relatively untouched.

Internalization genuine acceptance of group norms

Asch found that conformity occurred even in a situation where the majority gave clearly erroneous answers. Participants’ responses agreed with the erroneous majority approximately one-third of the time, and 27 percent of participants conformed on at least eight trials. Control participants gave incorrect answers less than 1 percent of the time.

  • The reason for that is because he was not afraid of being different from the rest of the group since the answers were hidden.
  • We found that subjects were disproportionately likely to adopt the social majority decision only when the number of demonstrators was high and subjects were uncertain in their own abilities (see Figure ​ Figure2).
  • When orders were given by telephone, the number of fully obedient subjects dropped to 25%.
  • Succumbing to peer pressure could lead to risky or illegal behavior, such as underage drinking.
  • Conformity bias is the tendency to make decisions or judgments based on other people’s behavior.
  • The trick was there was no movement, it was caused by a visual illusion known as the autokinetic effect.
  • He found substantially higher levels of conformity than Asch, with participants conforming 50% of the time in France and 62% of the time in Norway during critical trials.

Conformity can be linked to a fear of rejection or the presence of apathy in a person. This is the British English definition of conformity.View American English definition of conformity. Definition and synonyms of conformity from the online English dictionary from Macmillan Education. Schultz, P. W., Nolan, J. M., Cialdini, R. B., Goldstein, N. J., & Griskevicius, V. . The constructive, destructive, and reconstructive power of social norms.

What is a FDA Non

They are known as collectivist cultures and are more likely to conform. However, perhaps the most famous Conformity experiment was by Solomon Asch and his line judgment experiment.


Compared with individualistic cultures, people who live in collectivist cultures place a higher value on the goals of the group than on individual preferences. They also are more motivated to maintain harmony in their interpersonal relations. In general, the FDA actively assesses the impact of new consensus standards and revisions of existing standards on the premarket review process and recognizes these standards, as appropriate.

Learn About General Conformity

Independence, or dissent, can be defined as the unwillingness to bend to group pressures. Thus, this individual stays true to his or her personal standards instead of the swaying toward group standards. Secondly, a nonconformist could be displaying anticonformity or counterconformity which involves the taking of opinions that are opposite to what the group believes. This type of nonconformity can be motivated by a need to rebel against the status quo instead of the need to be accurate in one’s opinion. Further analyses examined the effect of social information in isolation and identified a general conformist response underlying subject decision making (see Figure ​ Figure2). The effect of the popularity of the modal choice interacted with the size of the group of demonstrators, however, with increasing group size corresponding to an increasingly disproportionate response to popularity.

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