Impact of Contextual and Personal Determinants on Online Social Conformity

Senuri Wijenayake, Niels van Berkel, Vassilis Kostakos, Jorge Goncalves

Publikation: Bidrag til tidsskriftTidsskriftartikelForskningpeer review

3 Citationer (Scopus)


Despite decades of research concerning social conformity and its effects on face-to-face groups, it is yet to be comprehensively investigated in online contexts. In our work, we investigate the impact of contextual determinants (such as majority group size, the number of opposing minorities and their sizes, and the nature of the task) and personal determinants (such as self-confidence, personality and gender) on online social conformity. In order to achieve this, we deployed an online quiz with subjective and objective multiple-choice questions. For each question, participants provided their answer and self-reported confidence. Following this, they were shown a fabricated bar chart that positioned the participant either in the majority or minority, presenting the distribution of group answers across different answer options. Each question tested a unique group distribution in terms of the number of minorities against the majority and their corresponding group sizes. Subsequently, participants were given the opportunity to change their answer and reported confidence. Upon completing the quiz, participants undertook a personality test and participated in a semi-structured interview. Our results show that 78% of the participants conformed to the majority's answers at least once during the quiz. Further analysis reveals that the tendency to conform was significantly higher for objective questions, especially when a participant was unsure of their answer and faced an opposing majority with a significant size. While we saw no significant gender differences in conformity, participants with higher conscientiousness and neuroticism tended to conform more frequently than others. We conclude that online social conformity is a function of majority size, nature of the task, self-confidence and certain personality traits.

TidsskriftComputers in Human Behaviour
Sider (fra-til)to appear
StatusUdgivet - 2020

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