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Why People Conform to Others in Times to Terror and Threat

07-10-2008 04:24 PM CET | Science & Education

Press release from: University of Groningen

Researchers from the University of Groningen conducted several experiments that demonstrated that people conform to others in the face of existential threat. The studies make an important contribution to the existing literature on the effects of mortality salience on the beliefs and opinions of individuals. They show that when people are made aware of their mortality, one is likely to conform to mainstream beliefs and opinions. The reason for this might be that the opinion of general public may provide one with (a) accurate information and (b) social approval. These two motives are thought to underlie conformity processes in general and are in line with Terror Management Theory research. It was concluded that, in times of terror and threat, people do not only want to be in a group because it provides physical protection, they also want to be like the group because this may help them to understand what is going on, and it makes them feel they are doing the right thing.

Contact: Lennart J. Renkema, Department of Social and Organizational Psychology, University of Groningen, The Netherlands, email to

Located within the Faculty of Behavioural and Social Sciences, the Department of Psychology of the University of Groningen is committed to top tier research combined with high quality education. This commitment to excellence is apparent at both the undergraduate and graduate levels where faculty research and student interests are combined to provide a high quality, broad psychology program.

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