Conformity Bias is a powerful tsunami that can shake you to the very root of your existence altering your perceptions, beliefs and opinions so that you fit in better. A tidal wave conformity “yielding to group pressures” bias can take on the form of overt social pressures or subtle influence by the unconscious.
Ah! So you want to play the sceptic and are taking the lofty sentences with a oceanful of salt. Well, let me cure you of your sceptic-sm.
Imagine you are planning to buy a two wheeler. You have not yet decided on the brand. You spending everyday surfing through manufacturer’s websites, going through the brochures like microbiologist checking for bacteria’s under the microscope and all the while you see “Brand X” plying on the road every day as you commute to and fro. The D day comes, In you walk into the showroom, gleaming and shining giving a tough competition to the shiny new machines.
You see numerous brands set up for consumer’s attentions and the spiel of the sales man confuses you – what do you do? You end up opting for the same brand that you have seen on the roads. You are conforming your choice on the majority opinion.
As much as we like to boast about our individuality, at the end of the day we are driven to fit in.
Conformity is brought about with a desire to fit in or be liked (normative conformity) or because you want to be seen as right (informational conformity) or conforming to a social role (identity).
Types of Conformity Bias
1 :: Compliance Compliance is when an individual accepts the influence to gain something from another person or group. The individual would not agree to the opinions privately but the fear of punishment or the sweetener of gaining something may impel him to compliance.
2 :: Internalisation When an individual accepts the influence because of its rewarding nature both in the private and public life is internalization.
Example: A deep level of conformity where the groups views become his own views. Hmm, reminds you of all those political worker’s doesn’t t?
3 :: Identification The acceptance of influence by an individual because he wants a satisfying self-defining relationship with another group or person.
A police officer gravitating towards fellow law enforcement official etc.
How to resist the Conformity Bias?
In routine life, ask yourself whether your decision justifies your actions. When found in an unfamiliar situation, instead of blindly and automatically adopting the majority influence step back. Think for a minute whether the majority influence is rational, warranted and in step with your moral compass.
Similarly when you want to impress an individual or a group. Decide on how far you will go. Do you want to lower yourself compromising your principles and ethos so that the others will look favourably at you.