The psychological explanation of conformity
Guandong Song and Qinhai Ma (Northeastern University), Fangfei Wu (Shenyang Jianzhu University), and Lin Li (Northeastern University), 2012, 40(8), 1365–1372

In this paper the authors compiled an in depth review of conformity, covering the development of research in this area and explaining how the field has developed over the years. They applied a variety of theories to describe how conformity can be divided into two main types – rational and irrational – and defined the meanings of related terms: abidance, compliance, obedience, and herd behavior. The first three terms are related to rational conformity, or behavior guided by thinking, judgment, or reasoning, while herd behavior is an example of irrational conformity, in which an individual’s actions are guided solely by instinct or intuition.

I had assumed herd behavior was a straightforward concept, involving mindless actions taken to ensure one’s behavior matches that of those around them. Although it is true that herd behavior is based on instinct, the authors commented that it “does not mean behavior without purpose.” I hadn’t thought of it that way before and this, among other conclusions, captured my interest.

Sarah Jones, Marketing Manager    
Social Behavior and Personality: an international journal