One in a Million

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

What's so wrong with fitting in? Science writer David Berreby, author of Us and Them: Understanding Your Tribal Mind, discusses our changing understanding of conformity.


David Berreby

Comments [11]

MCH from Brooklyn

Thank you #6 Mr. Judgment. It is amazing how quickly something becomes "conventional wisdom." Here's an idea: if you want to be a maverick, question everything you hear, find out the real story and make up your own mind.

Apr. 02 2008 11:16 AM
guy catelli from downtown manhattan

re: #1 "We just can't resist a Cool Hand Luke. :)"

i've never had any problem resisting Cool Hand Luke -- or Rambo, for that matter.

as a native manhattanite, and a downtowner since the 1980s, i'm very familiar with non-conformity: wardrobe -- 100% leather or denim; voter registration (myself included) -- 100% Democratic; epistemology: 100% unreflective, undigested Freudian and/or Marxian Voodoo.

Apr. 02 2008 11:09 AM
Michael from Brooklyn (not New Jersey)

As a teenager (in the late 1970s), I attended a summer camp run by unreconstructed ex-hippies. For me, it was a wonderful experience, as it was a place where the very attributes that made me feel alienated in most other contexts, were valued there. Unfortunately, for some other kids, it seemed to be a very stressful experience. There was considerable inverted social pressure to 'conform by by being an individual'. If it comes naturally, non-conformity should be treasured. Some people, however, seem to be more comfortable running with a herd, and aren't necessarily the worse for it.

Apr. 02 2008 11:02 AM
Meredith from Brooklyn

Yes, please comment on the gender aspect of nonconformity: women nonconformists are not championed in our society (and in particular, in politics) the way men are. Women who blaze their own paths are often seen in negative terms (power-hungry, heartless, etc.) whereas men are seen in positive ones (ambitious, driven, etc.).


Apr. 02 2008 11:01 AM
Amy from Manhattan

I have a button that says "I prefer to remain anomalous."

Apr. 02 2008 10:56 AM
Mr Judgment from NYC

There is a human instinct which trades responsibility, personal responsibility, for being taken care off.

After being the new kid in school every year for the first 7 years, I got my dose. Now, in a large company, I can see this all the time the same groupthink all the time. Right up to the iraq war -- folks had plenty of access to information and they "decided" to believe in fictions. Including educated NYC professors, etc, who could easily know better.

We need to educate people AND push personal responsibility not leverage the persistent poor as democratic voting blocks and then do nothing about it.

Apr. 02 2008 10:55 AM
mike from nyc

What about social conformity enforced through economics? I can express wild ideas if I am crazy rich, but perhaps if I was poor and expressed wild ideas they'd say I was crazy.

Apr. 02 2008 10:54 AM
Chicago Listener

I'm reading now about a string of kids in chicago who were killed by other kids...nearly two dozen school age children so far. any thoughts about the shooters and whether they have dropped out of normal society, or are conforming to a subculture?

Apr. 02 2008 10:53 AM
Paulo from Paterson, New Jersey

This man is suggesting that we're social creatures! He's obviously a fascist!

Apr. 02 2008 10:52 AM
Judith Kozloff from New York/London

please comment on the vast difference between male mavericks and female mavericks. women are still expected to conform especially to be successful

Apr. 02 2008 10:51 AM
Alie from Manhattan

We just can't resist a Cool Hand Luke. :)

Apr. 02 2008 10:49 AM

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