ISSN 1671-3710
CN 11-4766/R

Advances in Psychological Science ›› 2015, Vol. 23 ›› Issue (11): 1956-1965.doi: 10.3724/SP.J.1042.2015.01956

• Regular Articles • Previous Articles     Next Articles

The Neurobiological Mechanisms of Social Conformity

ZHAO Chunli   

  1. (Department of Psychology, Peking University, Beijing 100871, China)
    Teachers College; Center for Psychological Application, Shihezi University, Shihezi 832003, China)
  • Received:2014-11-08 Online:2015-11-15 Published:2015-11-15
  • Contact: ZHAO Chunli, E-mail:


People often change their opinion and behavior to conform to others. Recent studies in social neuroscience, using social psychological theories and experimental paradigms, have begun to elucidate the underlying neurobiological bases of social conformity. Neuroimaging studies show that brain areas, such as medial prefrontal cortex, striatum, orbitofrontal cortex, insula, amygdala, and hippocampus, play key roles in social conformity and cognitive imbalance. Evidences from the molecular genetic studies show that some genetic factors, such as the COMT gene, oxytocin, and Methylphenidate can enhance reward saliency by increasing dopamine in the brain, thus indirectly modulating social conformity. These reward-based reinforcement-learning mechanisms can explain social conformity. Future studies need to adapt an experimental paradigm to include more diverse populations, such as adolescents and elderly samples as well as patients with various psychopathology and brain lesions. It would also be promising to integrate different methodologies to clarify the neurobiological basis of social conformity.

Key words: social conformity, neurobiological mechanism, reward-based, reinforcement learning, social influence