September 24, 2020: Chadly Stern, Ph.D. ~ Is Conformity Stronger Among Conservatives, Liberals, or Neither?

Chadly Stern, Ph.D.
September 24, 2020 1:10 PM–2:25 PM

The Union College Psychology Department Speaker Series and Honors Colloquium welcome

Chadly Stern, Ph.D.

Assistant Professor of Psychology, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign

for a public lecture entitled

Is Conformity Stronger Among Conservatives, Liberals, or Neither?

Thursday, September 24, 2020

1:10 - 2:25 pm via Zoom

Effectively navigating daily life requires people to operate within a shared understanding of the world (e.g., calling an animal that barks a “dog”) and to follow collectively agreed upon norms (e.g., queueing in a store line). Throughout the course of history, conformity has also been used to enforce political agendas. As a result, social and behavioral scientists began to ask whether a desire for conformity varies across the political spectrum. This question has fostered generative debate for nearly a hundred years. Some perspectives have highlighted ideological asymmetries (i.e., differences) in a desire for conformity, whereas others have proposed that preferences for conformity are mostly symmetrical among liberals and conservatives. In this talk, I argue that political liberals and conservatives diverge in a basic psychological desire to affiliate and connect with like-minded others. As a result, conservatives place greater value on constructing shared attitudes and beliefs than do liberals. I outline findings supporting this perspective with regard to both perceived and actual attitude similarity in political groups. I then discuss a series of recent studies examining ideological differences in attitude conformity during real time interactions. I highlight implications of these findings for both political behavior and mundane social interaction.


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