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Psychology Glossary

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Conformity



Conformity:

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Conformity can be defined as adjusting one's behavior or thinking to match those of other people or a group standard. There are lots of reasons why people conform, including the desire/need to fit in or be accepted by others and maintaining order in ones life. For example, when you go to class, do you sit in a chair like other students or sit in the aisle? Do you face the front of the room like everyone else or do you sit facing the back wall? Why? Well, according to Muzafer Sherif (he was one of the most influential conformity researchers in psychological history), "When the external surroundings lack stabile, orderly reference points, the individuals caught in the ensuing experience of uncertainty mutually contribute to each other a mode of orderliness to establish their own orderly pattern." (Sherif, 1996, pp. xii-xiii; cited in Forsyth, 1995).