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Conformity or resistance: How do we handle change?Featured science projectScience project video

Abstract

How open are you to changing your behavior in order to "fit in"? To some degree, we all have to conform to social standards. Obeying the law, being respectful, and being polite are examples of societal expectations that we all try to follow in order to be accepted by others and not suffer the consequence for going against those expectations. In this science fair project, you find out how many participants are willing to engage in a new behavior in order fit the group norm.

Objective

Determine how readily participants are to changing their behavior in order to fit in with others.

Scientific Terms

Conformity, Peer Pressure

Background

The key to this 7th grade science project is to set up a staged situation that challenges the experience or beliefs of the participant, in order to determine whether he or she will behave in a manner that is consistent with the group's. It is important to clarify that each of us holds a set of values or beliefs that are deeply seated in our lives, and which would require extraordinary conditions for us to violate them. We may even be willing to die for them. This experiment focuses on challenging belief systems or thoughts that are of less significance to us, such as the color of clothes that we are willing or not willing to wear, or the fact that Sacramento is the capital of California.

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