Conformity Commonlit Answers

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  • 9th Grade
  • Lexile: 1190

Source: Conformity by Charlotte Harrison

Assessment Answers

QuestionAnswer
Which of the following best describes the central idea of the text?

Societies can maintain order without any forms of conformity.
People who conform lack individual independence.
People conform in order to fit in based on societal pressure.
Conforming is a conscious decision people make.
People conform in order to fit in based on societal pressure.
Which of the following best explains the relationship between compliance, identification, and internalization?Compliance occurs when people pretend to change their personal beliefs, while identification and internalization occur when people begin to believe other’s ideas.
PART A: What does the phrase “spiral of silence” mean as it is used in paragraph 8?a result of conformity in which the group agrees with one individual because no one wants to speak out.
PART B: Which phrase from paragraph 8 best supports the answer to PART A?
“those with other opinions are afraid to speak out.”

Explain what type of conformity the subjects in Muzafer Sherif’s moving light experiment were most likely experiencing, using evidence from the text to justify your answer.

In Muzafer Sherif’s moving light experiment, the type of conformity the subjects were most likely experiencing is best described as internalization. This conclusion is drawn from the evidence provided in the text, which describes the experiment and its outcomes.

In the experiment, subjects initially provided individual estimates of the movement of a light in a dark room, which varied widely. However, when placed in groups, their estimates began to converge over repeated trials.

By the end of the experiment, the subjects’ estimates had settled around a common norm, indicating that their perceptions had aligned with those of the group.

Internalization, as defined in the text, is when a person genuinely absorbs a group’s belief system and sees it as their own, both publicly and privately.

In Sherif’s experiment, the subjects appeared to have genuinely adjusted their perceptions to align with the group norm, rather than merely pretending to agree while privately holding onto their original beliefs (which would be compliance) or conforming due to the influence of a specific respected individual (which would be identification).

The fact that their perceptions and reported observations changed to align with the group suggests a deep level of conformity where the new belief (the group’s estimate of the light’s movement) was internalized as their own belief.

Discussion Answers

Why do you think older people are less susceptible to conformity?

Older people are generally considered less susceptible to conformity for several reasons:

  1. Increased Self-Confidence and Self-Identity: With age, individuals often develop a stronger sense of self and are more confident in their own beliefs and values. They are less likely to feel the need to conform to others’ opinions or behaviors to fit in or be accepted.
  2. Life Experience: Older people have had more time to experience a variety of situations and learn from them. This experience can lead to a clearer understanding of what they believe in and value, making them less likely to be swayed by group pressure.
  3. Changes in Social Networks: As people age, their social networks often become more stable and less subject to the peer pressures commonly experienced in younger years. They might prioritize meaningful, individual relationships over broader social acceptance.
  4. Different Priorities: With age, people often shift their priorities away from social acceptance and toward other values like personal integrity, family, and close relationships. This shift can reduce the perceived importance of conforming to social norms or peer groups.
  5. Cognitive and Emotional Maturity: Older adults may have developed more mature cognitive and emotional processing skills, enabling them to better analyze situations and resist pressures to conform when it goes against their beliefs or best interests.
  6. Less Exposure to Conformity-Inducing Situations: Older adults might not be as exposed to environments where conformity is strongly encouraged (like educational institutions or certain workplace cultures) as younger individuals are.

These factors contribute to an overall decrease in the influence of social conformity as people age. However, it’s important to note that susceptibility to conformity can vary greatly among individuals, regardless of age.


Can you think of any other instances in which conformity would be a good thing?

Oh yeah, for sure! Like, think about school stuff. In class, if everyone’s like, following the rules and raising their hands to speak, it makes everything go smoother. It’s kinda like everyone’s agreeing to be cool and not chaotic, so we all get to learn better.

Also, think about sports teams. If everyone on the team is following the coach’s strategies and playing their positions right, the team works way better together. It’s like when we all wear the same uniform, it shows we’re all on the same team and have the same goal, you know?

And, oh! What about when we’re driving with our parents and everyone’s following the traffic rules? It’s like, if everyone stops at red lights and goes on green, it keeps things safe and organized on the roads. It’d be super crazy and dangerous if everyone just did whatever they wanted while driving.

So, yeah, there are definitely times when going along with the group or following the same rules can be a pretty good thing. It helps keep stuff organized and safe, and can make sure everyone’s working together towards the same goal.


What are some examples in history of the destructive power of conformity?

Oh, there are some pretty intense examples in history where conformity led to some really bad stuff. Like, take Nazi Germany during World War II. A lot of people in Germany conformed to the ideas of the Nazis, led by Adolf Hitler.

They went along with the really harmful and hateful ideas about race and stuff, which led to the Holocaust, where millions of Jewish people and others were killed. It’s like one of the worst things ever because people didn’t stand up against the wrong ideas.

Another example is the Salem Witch Trials in the 1600s in Massachusetts. People got super paranoid about witchcraft, and everyone started accusing each other of being witches without any real proof. It was like, if you didn’t join in the accusing, you might be suspected of being a witch too. So many people conformed to this crazy panic, and it led to a bunch of innocent people being executed.

Then there’s the Red Scare in the United States during the 1950s. This was when a lot of people were super scared of communism.

Senator McCarthy and others started accusing people in Hollywood, the government, and other places of being communists without much evidence. A lot of people went along with it because they were scared of being accused themselves, and it ruined a lot of lives and careers.

These examples show how when a bunch of people just go along with harmful ideas without questioning them, it can lead to some really tragic and unfair stuff happening.

It’s like a reminder of why it’s important to think for ourselves and not just follow the crowd, especially when the crowd is doing something harmful.


What are the effects of following the crowd? Use evidence from this text, your own experience, and other literature, art, or history in your answer.

Following the crowd can have a bunch of different effects, both good and bad. Like in the text “Conformity” by Charlotte Harrison, it talks about how people change to fit in with a group and how this affects society. Sometimes, this can be good, like when everyone agrees to follow rules or norms that keep things safe and organized.

Think about when we’re in school, and everyone agrees to listen to the teacher and not talk over each other. It helps everyone learn better.

But following the crowd can also have some not-so-great effects. In history, we’ve seen how people conforming can lead to really bad stuff. Like in the text, it talks about the “spiral of silence,” where people are afraid to speak out against the majority opinion. This can stop new or different ideas from being heard and can even lead to harmful actions.

Remember the example of Nazi Germany I mentioned before? That’s like the extreme of how dangerous it can be when everyone just goes along with harmful ideas.

In literature and movies, there are loads of stories about how just following the crowd can lead to trouble or make people lose their own identity. Like, in “The Wave” by Todd Strasser, students start a movement to understand how people could follow Nazi Germany, but then they get too caught up in it and start acting like a mindless crowd, which gets scary.

In my own experience, I’ve seen how following the crowd can make people do stuff they usually wouldn’t. Like, sometimes in school, if one person starts acting out and everyone else starts doing it too, it can turn into a big mess where no one’s really thinking for themselves anymore.

So, yeah, following the crowd can make things run smoothly sometimes, but it can also lead to losing your own thoughts and ideas or even to bad stuff happening if the crowd is going down a harmful path. It’s like a balance between being part of a group but also keeping your own mind.

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Dr. Evelyn Wordsworth
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Dr. Evelyn Wordsworth is a seasoned linguist and literacy educator with over 7 years of experience in the field. Holding a Ph.D. in Linguistics from the prestigious Harvard University, Evelyn has dedicated her career to exploring the intricacies of language acquisition and promoting literacy among diverse learner populations.

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