Title

Alone against the group: A unanimously disagreeing group leads to conformity, but cardiovascular threat depends on one's goals

Department

Psychological Sciences

Document Type

Article

Publication Source

Psychophysiology

Publication Date

2016-08-01

Volume

53

Issue

8

First Page

1263

Last Page

1271

Abstract

© 2016 Society for Psychophysiological Research. A long history of research in psychology has studied the consequences of when individuals face a group that unanimously disagrees with them. However, relatively little research has attempted to understand individuals' internal reactions to such disagreement while it is experienced. Psychophysiological measures are particularly well suited for this purpose. We used the perspective of the biopsychosocial model of challenge/threat to test whether and under what circumstances expressing one's political opinion to a disagreeing group led to a cardiovascular threat response (high total peripheral resistance, low cardiac output). We hypothesized that, when participants were provided with a goal to fit in with the group, a disagreeing group would elicit cardiovascular responses consistent with greater threat than an agreeing group, but that this effect would disappear if not reverse when participants were provided with a goal to express their individuality. Results supported hypotheses and further revealed a divergence between cardiovascular responses and conformity behavior, such that a disagreeing group fostered conformity regardless of goal condition. These findings suggest that (a) facing the prospect of a disagreeing group need not necessarily result in the negative experience of threat (reflecting evaluating low resources/high demands), and (b) conformity behavior can mask a range of internal states.

Keywords

Cardiovascular, Challenge and threat, Conformity, Disagreeing group, Goals

DOI

10.1111/psyp.12674

https://doi.org/10.1111/psyp.12674

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