Team Magenta! Matt, Denielle, Prudence, Brandon, Nitasha and Tatjana

Is conformity a bigger problem for contemporary adolescents than it was in past decades?

What is Conformity?

Conformity is a psychological concept, which involves a change in an individual's belief or behavior in order to fit in with a group to fulfill social norms.

Why Study Conformity?

This project on conformity is to analyze how much conformity has affected those of the past until today whether there are more children, youths and adults that have more to indulge in now that would change their perceptions or beliefs or was there more in the past. To help find answers to this question, we decided to divide the research into smaller focus groups that ranges from conformity in children to adults from the 1900's until the modern day era in the 2000's.

Developmental Changes in Conformity to Peers and Parents

Berndt, Thomas J., Yale University, (1979). 15(6), 608-616.

This article is useful because it talks about peer conformity and parental conformity. It focuses on the youths and adolescents’ who would rather conform to their peers than with their parents. For the peer conformity they used three types of behaviour to determine whether a child would conform to their peers. The behaviours were anti-social, pro-social and neutral with each doing as the behaviour suggests. For parental they used two types, conformity on decisions with parents advice and conformity on decisions made without parent interference. The results showed that grades 11-12, 39% did conform to their parents while the other 61% conformed to their peers and what they wanted. Many adolescents are not willing to take the advice of a parent but will definitely take the advice of their peers no matter how out of place that advice might seem.

Conformity to Peer-Sponsored Misconduct at Four Grade Levels

Bixenstine, V. Edwin; DeCorte, Margaret S.; Bixenstine, Barton A., (1976). 12(3), 226-236.

This article is useful because it talks about children that were tested to see if they knew wrong from right and how likely they would be to get involved with committing misconduct. A study was done between grades 3, 6, 8 and 11 to see how, if at all do they conform to doing the right thing. At 3rd grade level all kids had similar views and beliefs however; it decreased sharply as the grade level went up. There were two types of class; the training class which the beliefs and views went down more rapidly than the suburban class. There were 11 questions that were used that ranged from 5 to 1 with 5 being very wrong and 1, not wrong at all. The questions pertained to how wrong it was to… throw an egg at your neighbour’s door and would you do it if others were doing it too. The grade threes answered with a 5 on all 11 and no but as the grade level went up there were more ones than 3 or 5 and yes to doing what their friends were doing. The beliefs and perception of wrong doing seem to minimize with age and that average is slightly lower with the training kids. The suburban kids tend to be more resistant to misconduct whereas in the training schools the rules are less enforced and have a more liberal view which boosts conformity unknowingly.

Perceptions of Peer Pressure, Peer Conformity Dispositions, and Self-Reported Behaviour Among Adolescents

Brown, B. Bradford; Clasen, Donna R.; Eicher, Sue A.. Developmental Psychology 22.4 (Jul 1986): 521-530.

Their findings for the most part supported the conclusions of previous studies of peer conformity, but they also suggested that peer pressures and peer conformity dispositions are independent as well as interactive sources of influence on teenage behaviour. Perceived pressures and conformity do not appear to follow the same pattern across adolescence, nor do they appear equally salient in different factors of teenagers’ lives or among adolescents in different communities. Both factors therefore must be considered in order to comprehend peer conformity during the teenage years. It is also interesting to note that the authors of this study have found or at least believe that conformity is in an inverted U shape. Which one would believe to be true based on other research conducted as well as ones own personal life.

Conformity Reduction in Adolescence

Boyd, Robert E.. Adolescence 10.38 (1975): 297-300.

This particular study is of note because it like so many other studies is able to support the laboratory findings of Costanzo and Shaw. For the original experiment and the one described in this study both show that conformity is or at least appears to be directly related to developmental stage. Another thing to note about this study is the instrument being used for the experiments appears to be relatively stable and also appears to test personal characteristics at least minimally visible to others. This is important because with a useful instrument the validity of the study is more accurate and easier to conduct again in the future.

Conformity and Peer Rejection

Hanna, Jayne. University of Ottawa. School of Psychology 1994.

This study mainly focused on peer pressure in cliques and the goal was to understand peer groups processes contributing to negative status in children about which others might initially feel ambivalent , or positive with some hesitancy. The study size contained 192 adolescents from the 1900's era of males and females and the aim was to contribute to an understanding of the processes at work in the peer group when a child is rejected. It has been stated that conformity within peer groups can have negative repercussions because it can lead to the suppression of personal views held by children about the rejected child, views that may be less negative than the views one may think are held my peers. Children who may be susceptible to this rejection process may be those who don't fit into the culture of the peer group through adopting its norms governing physical appearance such as clothing styles, jargon and attitudes. Overall, the participant subjects tend to conform more when in cliques but not in groups of other individuals or are not part of cliques. Part of this study also shows that females conformed most in their groups but expected their groups members to see and hear their opinions, however the slight difference in the males was that they wanted their opinions to remain private. By going through this study, it has been brought to my attention that conformity is a psychological thing especially when they are concerning about what their peers think about them. Females tend to operate more on a social level when it comes to stating their opinions or deciding on what to wear and what to do. The fear of being rejected by people who they associate themselves with daily is a living nightmare for many adolescents.

Conformity and Peer Status in Middle Childhood

Hettleman, Daniel. Copyright 1997, by UMI Company. August 1997.

Most researchers seem to agree that people conform because of wanting to be accepted by their peers and immediate family members until they become older and understand that their unique personality is what makes them who they are. One reviewer of this particular literature has concluded that "the key to understanding rejection in children's groups is to understand what constitutes unacceptable deviance from their norms|" (Coie,1990, p. 371, page 2). Having a sense of belonging is as important in middle childhood as it is to adolescence. The start of studying childhood conformity was in the 1960's and 1970's after a large portion of research was done on adults in the 1950-s and 1960's. A few definitions of conformity given in this research is "the act of behaving in accordance with social rules or norms" (Costanzo and Shaw 1966), or "a change in behaviour or belief toward a group as a result of real or imagined group pressure" (Kiesler and Kiesler, 1970), or "regulation of one's behaviour with respect to some specific other people" (Sherif and Sherif, 1964). By using a research method known as pioneering cross-sectional study, Costanzo and Shaw (1966) compared four age groups and noticed that conforming behaviour was higher among the 11-13 year-old. Hoving, Hamm, and Galvin (1969) varied the ambiguity of the task used to establish social influence and found that conforming behaviors decreased with age from second to eighth grade on unambiguous tasks , but increased with age on ambiguous tasks. The overall purpose of this study was to see how each participant responded to a scenario with imagined peer pressure from peers and parents based on questions that regarded personal preferences, values and delay of gratification. In each case study the research saw how the middle aged children either changed or stuck with what they knew when put under pressure. This article is important when looking at conformity because its something that everyone has to deal with at some point of our lives we always tend to regard how we are viewed in the eyes of our friends and families. This is a different kind of research because majority of the other research that I have looked at only discusses the different roles peers play in our lives and choices but hardly ever with families who tend to have as much on an impact on you as anyone else.

Analyzing Peer Pressure and Self-Efficacy Expectations Among Adolescents

Social Behavior and Personality, Kiran-Esen, B. (2012). 40(8), 1301-1309.

This is a good article because it talks about how teenagers want to be more independent from their families, and how being a member of a group is one of the most important part of their lives at that stage in their lives. The article states that they use these peer groups as sort of a second family since they want independence from their actual families. The article also emphasizes how adolescents get controlled through peer pressure within these groups, and they usually do not object against it because they feel the need to be accepted. Sometimes these relationships the adolescents have are healthy, and those are different from the relationships that are not. As they get older and more mature, they start to become more self-sufficient, and they are able to tell what is right or wrong for themselves.

Conformity in Early and Late Adolescence

Landsbaum, Jane B.; Willis, Richard H.. Developmental Psychology 4.3 (May 1971): 334-337.

This study is of particular note because the data collected offers convincing experimental evidence to support the widely held, but seldom tested view that younger adolescents are more vulnerable to the influence of peers than older adolescents. It is also important to note that the Costanzo and Shaw (1966) experiment is mentioned and that their study as well as the data collected by this research team seem to confirm the idea that age and conformity do not have a linear relationship. Although it should be noted that the conductors of this experiment believe that further research is in order and that the experiments should be done in more socially relevant, less artificial situations. As well as diversifying the groups used for the studies in order to truly confirm the results of their studies.

Measuring Peer Pressure, Popularity, and Conformity in Adolescent Boys and Girls: Predicting School Performance, Sexual Attitudes, and Substance Abuse

Santor, Darcy A., Deanna Messervey, and Vivek Kusumakar Journal of Youth and Adolescence. Vol.29. No.2.200

This article is about the different ways that youths happen to conform to particular categories of social norms and being indulged into what considered to be popular culture. While examining the different trends of what youths find popular, a major part of this research has to do with peer pressure whether it's in or against the will of the individual. Findings suggest that peer pressure and peer conformity are potentially greater risk factors than a need to be popular and that both peer pressure and peer conformity can be measured with short scales suitable for large scale testing.Peer groups influence adolescent socialization and identity by allowing young persons to explore individual interests and uncertainties by retaining a sense of belonging and continuity within a group of friends (Erikson, 1969; Hartup, 1963; Steinberg and Silverburg, 1987;). Belonging to a group requires conformity to group interests and desires, which may not be strictly a matter of individual preference (Santor 1). This article is important because it provides a general insight of the common situations that many youths find themselves in. Choosing to conform to something usually challenges personal morals and teachings of family and usually results in a negative ending. The effect of peer pressure is more complicated than it seems for it isn't always easy for youths to just walk away especially if they are looking for acceptance.

Adolescents' Concept of Popularity and Unpopularity, Comparing 1960 with 1976 Adolescence 

Sebald, H. (1981). 16(61), 187-193.

This is a useful article because it signifies how teens strive to be seen and liked by their peers and to be popular. The article states that a study revealed that girls desired to be more popular than boys did (47% of girls wanted to be more popular, and 36% of boys wanted to be more popular). Teenagers who were in the upper-middle class who had parents with good jobs felt the need to be more popular than the ones in a lower class. Teenagers always feel the need to be accepted by other teenagers, and this article has many studies that prove that. Teenagers will do a variety of things to conform with their peers. This includes dressing a certain way, having certain attitude, and the same interests as everyone. The studies also showed that conformity usually starts after the age of eight or nine, and after that, they start giving in to peer pressure.


Berndt, Thomas J., Yale University, (1979). 15(6), 608-616. Retrieved from:
Bixenstine, V. Edwin; DeCorte, Margaret S.; Bixenstine, Barton A., (1976). 12(3), 226-236.
Brown, B. Bradford; Clasen, Donna R.; Eicher, Sue A.. Developmental Psychology 22.4 (Jul 1986): 521-530.
Boyd, Robert E.. Adolescence 10.38 (1975): 297-300.
Hanna, Jayne. University of Ottawa. School of Psychology 1994.
Hettleman, Daniel. Copyright 1997, by UMI Company. August 1997.
Social Behavior and Personality, Kiran-Esen, B. (2012). 40(8), 1301-1309. Retrieved from
Landsbaum, Jane B.; Willis, Richard H.. Developmental Psychology 4.3 (May 1971): 334-337.
Santor, Darcy A., Deanna Messervey, and Vivek Kusumakar Journal of Youth and Adolescence. Vol.29. No.2.200
Sebald, H. (1981). 16(61), 187-193. Retrieved from**

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