Understanding conformity—the tendency for an individual to agree with a majority position—is crucial to understanding society. It explains decision-making and influence, its effects reflected in quotidian and extreme dynamics, from those between randomly assigned college roommates and to those of foreign policy experts trying to avoid a global disaster.
In this paper, the authors investigate how the racial diversity of a group’s composition may influence the degree of its conformity.
When White participants were randomly assigned to groups that were racially diverse or homogeneous, the participants in diverse groups were significantly less likely to conform (and choose an inferior candidate) than those in homogeneous groups. These same findings were replicated in an online setting.
Moreover, when the diverse group included just one other White member, individuals conformed less than in the homogeneous setting.
The evidence suggests that Whites in homogeneous (vs. diverse) settings were more likely to reconsider their original decision after learning how other group members responded.