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.