British Journal of Developmental Psychology

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Volume 36 Issue 4 (November 2018), Pages i-iv, 521-678

Preschoolers' conformity (and its motivation) is linked to own and parents' personalities (pages 573-588)

Previous studies on conformity have primarily focused on factors that moderate conformity rates overall and paid little attention to explaining the individual differences. In this study, we investigate five‐factor model personality traits of both parents and children and experimentally elicited conformity in 3.5‐year‐olds (= 59) using an Asch‐like paradigm with which we measure both overt conformity (public responses) and covert opinions (private beliefs after conformist responses): A correct covert opinion after an incorrect conformist response results from a socially normative motivation, whereas an incorrect covert opinion results from an informational motivation. Our data show (1) low parental extroversion is associated with participants' overall rate of conformity, (2) and low participant extroversion and high openness are associated with an informational instead of a normative motivation to conform. This suggests that sensitivity to the social context or social engagement level, as manifested through extroversion, could be an important factor in conformist behaviour.

What is already known on this subject?

  • We all conform, from early in life – and even when we should know better
  • We can conform for normative and informational motivations
  • Some are more prone to conform than others

What does this study add?

  • This is the first study to take an individual differences approach to developmental conformity
  • Social engagement (extroversion) is an important factor in conformity

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