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J Pers Soc Psychol. 2007 Apr;92(4):585-95.

Alone in a crowd of sheep: asymmetric perceptions of conformity and their roots in an introspection illusion.

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  • 1Department of Psychology, Princeton University, Princeton, NJ 08544-1010, USA.


The results of 5 studies showed that people see others as more conforming than themselves. This asymmetry was found to occur in domains ranging from consumer purchases to political views. Participants claimed to be less susceptible than their average peers to broad descriptions of social influences, and they also claimed to be less susceptible than specific peers to specific instances of conformity. These studies further demonstrated that this asymmetry is not simply the result of social desirability, but it is also rooted in people's attention to introspective versus behavioral information when making conformity assessments. The participants displayed an introspection illusion, placing more weight on introspective evidence of conformity (relative to behavioral evidence) when judging their own susceptibility to social influence as opposed to someone else's. Implications for self-other asymmetries, implicit social influence, and interpersonal conflict are discussed.

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