People often conform to the behavior of others with whom they identify. However, it is unclear what fundamental mechanisms underlie this type of conformity. Here, we investigate the processes mediating in-group conformity by using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI). Participants completed a perceptual decision-making task while undergoing fMRI, during which they were exposed to the judgments of both in-group and out-group members. Our data suggest that conformity to the in-group is mediated by both positive affect as well as the cognitive capacity of perspective taking. Examining the processes that drive in-group conformity by utilizing a basic decision-making paradigm combined with neuroimaging methods provides important insights into the potential mechanisms of conformity. These results may provide an integral step in developing more effective campaigns using group conformity as a tool for behavioral change.

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ERIM Top-Core Articles
Frontiers in Human Neuroscience
Rotterdam School of Management (RSM), Erasmus University

Stallen, M., Smidts, A., & Sanfey, A. (2013). Peer influence: Neural mechanisms underlying in-group conformity. Frontiers in Human Neuroscience, (FEB). doi:10.3389/fnhum.2013.00050