Short Research Note
Go with the flow: conforming to others in the face of existential threat
Article first published online: 6 NOV 2007
Copyright © 2008 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.
European Journal of Social Psychology
Volume 38, Issue 4, pages 747–756, June 2008
How to Cite
Renkema, L. J., Stapel, D. A. and Van Yperen, N. W. (2008), Go with the flow: conforming to others in the face of existential threat. Eur. J. Soc. Psychol., 38: 747–756. doi: 10.1002/ejsp.468
- Issue published online: 13 MAY 2008
- Article first published online: 6 NOV 2007
- Manuscript Accepted: 4 SEP 2007
- Manuscript Received: 10 APR 2007
In three studies we investigate the impact of mortality salience on conformity and show that people have a greater preference to conform to the opinions of others when mortality is salient. Study 1 shows that mortality salience increases the degree to which judgments of abstract drawings are influenced by the majority's opinion. Study 2 shows that mortality salience causes people to change their opinions towards societal issues, so that these fit the attitudes they think others have. Study 3 replicates the findings of the first study and additionally shows that people do not conform to the attitude of outgroup members. Our findings extend previous Terror Management Theory research and suggest that conforming to the group is a means to buffer the fear that may otherwise arise in existentially threatening situations. Copyright © 2007 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.