Social Conformity -Behavioral Flaws

Possibly we need different, or a combined approach to gaining independence from religion. A social experiment from the 1950’s done by Solomon Asch, illustrates and corroborates other findings of humans needing to fit in to whatever particular group they are in, and in many cases even complete strangers or people they disagree with. Students in the study were instructed to choose the line on card 2 that matched the single line card.

All but one member of each test group were instructed through random phases to choose the wrong answer. 36% of students willingly went along with the groups wrong answer. 35% absolutely held their ground in the correct choice, while the remaining others argued the choice, then cautiously went along with the wrong answer. Sound about right? The findings were within one percentage point of Eric Hoffers’ findings at 35% of what he calls “true believers”. Those that need a group or something bigger than themselves to cling to and feel validated.

What is it about us that drives us to acceptance? Psychology Today has some insight. Joanna Cannon says,

“Perhaps it would be empowering to embrace our differences, rather than fear them. Instead of living our lives in monochrome, it might be more fulfilling to search for the color, and the variance, in those around us, and we can then allow ourselves to be accepted for who we really are”. Joanna Cannon is a psychiatrist from Leicester Medical School, England

The divisive nature of piety automatically puts one at odds with the rest of the world. Finding yourself can lead you to intellectual freedom, independent thought, and self acceptance can instill confidence to break the faith trap and call out the BS without staying in it due to peer pressure to fit in. Meanwhile, we’ll just keep at it.

Photo “wild turkey” TheCommonAtheist 2018


Author: jimoeba

Alternatives to big box religions and dogmas

21 thoughts on “Social Conformity -Behavioral Flaws”

  1. I presume you speak Spanish, so have a look at this interview with Mariano Sigman about his book The Secret Life of the Mind:
    In the book he theorises that we “naturally” reject what’s different and embrace what’s familiar, and that that’s a self-preservation mechanism. This dovetails into the conformity issue because conformity helps create, at the very least, the illusion of similarity.

    Liked by 4 people

    1. As a survival mechanism I would agree there is inherent programming. The idea of the blank slate was kicked around when the group here discussed if we are born theist or not, and in the end of that consensus was no, but, the religious programming certainly fits a certain chemistry better than others. I guess I still don’t have a final answer, but as a person that lived the life of religion and comparing it to now, religion takes away your individuality as a person, whether you want it to or not. Molding and shaping the uniqueness out of you instead of embracing you. Sound familiar?

      Liked by 4 people

  2. This was a GREAT post Jim! Anything that illicits modern psychology and/or cognitive sciences and neurology and their discoveries, I am spellbound and all for!!! LOL 😉

    Thank you!

    One of my favorite quotes applies here…

    “In every adversity lies the seed of an equal or greater opportunity.”
    — Napoleon Hill

    Embrace differences (not fear them!) because they are what successes and evolving higher intelligence and problem-resolution are all about!!!

    Liked by 4 people

    1. The initial premise as a Christian is to be right, vs the world. This presupposition sets you at odds with those that are different, and since the vast majority want to quell everything that doesn’t fit the Christian mold, it is difficult for those predisposed to need approval, to either join the ranks or go into hiding. Why are so many atheist blogs anonymous? That’s why. Acceptance is not granted, and if we want to be ourselves it is often in opposition to our families and/or communities. Great comment Prof. Glad to be on the good side.

      Liked by 4 people

    2. Hi Jim and Professor Taboo,

      There are evolutionary and cognitive forces at work as to why so many of us are conforming. For a start, we are social and gregarious animals, and consensus (and sometimes even blind obedience) is important for the survival of our ancient ancestors, at least insofar as there is safety in number, not to mention the law of averages. For example, in a weekly TV show called “Think Tank”, contestants tend to go with the answer that is given by the greatest number of panel members in the think tank, because, rightly or wrongly, they believe that the most popular answer is the one that is most likely to be right, by extending the principle that “Two heads are better than one.” Similarly, scientific experiments also confirm that people invariably face the same direction in lifts or elevators, peer pressure notwithstanding. In addition to the social experiment done by Solomon Asch, later, the Milgram experiment in 1961 is also another well-known example. I have discussed in detail many of these critical issues in the section called “Authority Bias and Author Bias: Expert Influence, Creator Persuasion” at

      Liked by 2 people

    3. Quoting Professor Taboo:

      Embrace differences (not fear them!) because they are what successes and evolving higher intelligence and problem-resolution are all about!!!

      I agree! Moreover, we should also embrace people who are significantly different from us in matters of neuroplasticity and neurodiversity (including those who are, rightly or wrongly, deemed to be mentally challenged), even though I have mentioned before that neuralplasticity can be a double-edge sword, for humans can be neurophysiologically entrained to become carriers of positive and/or negative memes. By extension, we should extend our embrace of differences to the nonhumans in confronting speciesism and anthropocentricism. These issues, including matters concerning neuroplasticity and neurodiversity in both humans and nonhumans, are fresh in my mind, for earlier this week, I have finally taken the time to debate such issues by expanding my post at

      Liked by 2 people

  3. I have always wondered about the teen years thing. When we enter our teen years we want desperately to become independent of our parents / guardians, yet we also want desperately to fit in and be part of the social group or our peers / same age. It seems to me two conflicting desires / needs and I wonder if it is social or biological driven. Hugs

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Scottie,

      According to this article, the whole teenage rebellion phenomena is recent and unique to western culture:

      In 1991 anthropologist Alice Schlegel of the University of Arizona and Herbert Barry III, a psychologist at the University of Pittsburgh, reviewed research on teens in 186 preindustrial societies. Among the important conclusions they drew about these societies: about 60 percent had no word for “adolescence,” teens spent almost all their time with adults, teens showed almost no signs of psychopathology, and antisocial behavior in young males was completely absent in more than half these cultures and extremely mild in cultures in which it did occur.

      [ . . . ]

      Consistent with these modern observations, many historians note that through most of recorded human history the teen years were a relatively peaceful time of transition to adulthood. Teens were not trying to break away from adults; rather they were learning to become adults. Some historians, such as Hugh Cunningham of the University of Kent in England and Marc Kleijwegt of the University of WisconsinMadison, author of Ancient Youth: The Ambiguity of Youth and the Absence of Adolescence in Greco-Roman Society (J. C. Gieben, 1991), suggest that the tumultuous period we call adolescence is a very recent phenomenon–not much more than a century old.

      The Myth of the Teen Brain
      We blame teen turmoil on immature brains. But did the brains cause the turmoil, or did the turmoil shape the brains?
      By Robert Epstein on June 1, 2007

      Liked by 3 people

      1. I’ll give you 80 points for posting that article. That is a wealth of insight. Here’s one of them- “Over the past century, we have increasingly infantilized our young, treating older and older people as children while also isolating them from adults and passing laws to restrict their behavior”. Thanks Ron. Good read

        Liked by 2 people

      2. Thank you Ron. I just finished reading the article at the link. Again the US has a problem much larger than the rest of groups tested. The question I had while reading was how come we treat young people in a childish way causing this problem? If teens have the ability to be young adults, why not encourage the adult part of that. All I ever hear are they are too young to do this or that, they are too immature to understand things including their own bodies, they can not handle their emotions. So what is the way to get to a progressive treatment of young adults? Hugs

        Liked by 2 people

      3. Thank you, Ron, for introducing us to that article. Whether the “Teen Brain” is real or fictitious, I fear that if many of the social ills that we have been observing and experiencing were to continue to intensify and spread, then we could descend into the “Teen Age”, a future scenario that I describe in my post entitled “Facing the Noise & Music: Playgrounds for Biophobic Citizens”, published at


  4. This brought back a memory from my youth. I was out and about riding my bike, exploring a new neighborhood, and ran into a couple of guys I vaguely knew from school. I can’t remember their names now I’ll call them creepy little guy and big dumb guy. I hung out with them for the day and big dumb guy was always doing everything creepy little guy told him to. It was a curious thing to observe, I mean to the point of big dumb guy breaking large sticks across his own head. I had a moment to speak to big dumb guy and asked him why the hell did he do all the crazy shit creepy little guy told him to do, he looked at me somewhat dumbfounded (being the big dumb guy,) as if he hadn’t even considered that he had options.

    I never hung out with those guys again, the whole thing was just strange to me. But if ever there was a case of people doing whatever they needed to do to fit in, this was it.

    I was also somewhat aware then of how despots and dictators were able to get to the top. They have lots of big dumb guys eagerly doing their bidding. I felt like I was watching an Adolph Hitler phenomenon in its youth.

    I think sometimes that there are born leaders and born followers. And born con men who know how to take advantage of it. Hence religion.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. At the school the other day I was in the hall and the bell rang. All the kids were coming down the hall and one boy was tripped really hard. He hit the floor and all his papers scattered. The boy started laughing and saying “you got me good, oh that was a good one”. All the others in the group were laughing too. I had a similar thing happen to me, but I got expelled for fighting. He was our nose guard at the time, a
      much bigger dude and I won it. So even though I was born indoctrinated I didn’t give a shit at that point about wanting to fit it so bad I’d suffer abuse. I won, but still got beat on pretty hard. No way I was giving up. It never happened again. But I think we’ve all seen levels about what your showing us here, and some of it is genetic predisposition and some not. You even get in trouble now days for defending yourself from the bully, so that type of conformity is taught in the programs.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. You may have been born indoctrinated, but clearly are not a born follower.

        There is nothing like coming out on top, against a bigger guy, in a fight you never should have gotten the upper hand in, to make you realize your inner strength, and the ability to overcome. 🙂 I have had more than my share of bullies who thought I was an easy mark. I took a few thumps, and a good bit of bully ridicule before I learned how well I like my chances. Once you cross that line there’s no looking back. Bullies really don’t like it when they run into someone who punches back.

        Getting in trouble for defending ones self is freaking ridiculous. There should be a merit badge for that. But times change…

        Liked by 2 people

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