Scientists Find They Can Control How People React to Group Pressure

Richard Gray, Telegraph (London), September 3, 2011

Scientists have identified the part of the brain responsible for controlling whether we conform to expectations and group pressure.

The researchers found they were able to control whether volunteers conformed to social pressure by using powerful electromagnetic pulses that changed the activity of a small part of the brain.

Volunteers whose posterior medial frontal cortex, an area in the middle of the brain that is associated with reward processing, were exposed to the magnetic pulses suffered reduced levels of conformity.

The researchers believe this part of the brain dates back a long way in the evolution of animals and is responsible or automatically “correcting” our performance when we fall out of line with a group.

They say that by suspending this mechanism, it allows people to think and behave differently. They now believe it may be possible to develop drugs or behaviour changing techniques that could increase or decrease people’s conformity.

Dr Vasily Klucharev, a neuroscientist who led the research at the Radboud University Nijmegen, in Holland, said: “People can try to reduce conformity in certain situations, especially when they know about negative consequences of group pressure such as criminal behaviour, propaganda or aggressive marketing.

“Right now we can search for behavioural techniques that modulate activity of the posterior medial frontal cortex without any physical intervention. Hopefully, with help of these techniques someone would be able to partly immune themselves to ‘group pressure’.

“Drug manipulation of dopamine could also affect conformity.”

Such drugs would be controversial, however, as they could be used by companies hoping to make their employees more reliable or to help control rebellious individuals.

In the study, the researchers asked 49 female volunteers to take part in a study where they were asked to rate the attractiveness of 220 photographs of female faces, but they were allowed to change their ratings after seeing what others in the study had scored.

When Transcranial Electromagnetic Stimulation (TMS) was used to inhibit the activity of the neurons in the posterior medial frontal cortex, the participants did not change their ratings of the photographs so they were more in line with the rest of the group.

Dr Klucharev believes this part of the brain is responsible for generating an “error” signal when individuals deviate from the group opinion, triggering a cascade that leads them to conform with the group view.

He said: “What if that mechanism could be suspended for a time? The group who were exposed to the TMS changed their views to a much lesser extent–they were immune to ‘group pressure’.

“Individuals differ in the strength of the error signal–which is why some people are more conformist than others. It also tells us that conformity is a rather automatic process that is based on an old evolutionary mechanism.”

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  • Stiv

    Which is of course itself conformist.

  • Question Diversity

    This is bad news for the libs. If this drug comes to market and is widely prescribed and taken, a lot of people will lose their ability to conform, and will therefore quit believing that our diversity is our strength, and other spoon fed ruling class bromides.

  • True Blue

    To begin with, ‘rebellious individuals’ are (by definition) non-conformist. Most of the left do not fall into this category, as they mindlessly bleat along with the rest of the sheep; unable or unwilling to see reality as it is; and unable to think critically about its nature.

    Second point; everything else -pharmacopia, government, television etc. is geared toward enforcing conformity; conformity to their political agenda, conformity in spending, conformity in every aspect of life from your pants to your house. The fears they listed in the article “Such drugs would be controversial, however, as they could be used by companies hoping to make their employees more reliable or to help control rebellious individuals”

    Rebellious workers get fired, and all this drug implies is that it would create more non-conforming rebellious types; not less. How would making your entire workforce Less conformist make them More reliable? Peer pressure happens to be one of several forces at work that keep people from sticking a pencil in someone’s eye, or comitting other ‘abberant’ or non-conforming behavior.

    On the other side of the coin, it sounds as if this has the potential to be something of a ‘wake-up’ drug that allows people to shake off their PC notions, forget what the neighbor’s think and call a spade a spade.

    Would this have prevented London’s summer of ‘fun’? or our own flash-mob attacks? Absolutely not, in fact it may have even made them worse and more extended.

    Look at it this way; the study noted that women’s opinions changed to match the group when studying faces and rating their relative attractiveness. (Unstated is if they rated down more often -caving to negative peer pressure- or if they rated up -caving to positive peer pressure, though that is of more importance than that they did not change their opinion while taking the drug.)

    I suspect that the average woman lowered her rating of for low scoring pictures, but was not inclined to improve her vote on higher scoring pictures; and while taking the drug was more inclined to stick to her guns and keep her (higher) opinion.

    Meaning that if you ‘liked’ it (enjoyed it, gained pleasure or value from it, harbored the opinion about it) before taking the drug, you would be even more inclined to ‘it’ After taking the drug. At the same time, your fears about doing/feeling whatever ‘it’ is are measurably lowered.

    In short, If this hits the market, it will go from being very popular to becoming a Schedule 2 or 3 controlled substance in very short order. Also watch for this to become an excuse for certain ‘youth’s’ behavior, and ‘ghetto lottery’ lawsuits.

  • Anonymous

    They say that by suspending this mechanism, it allows people to think and behave differently. They now believe it may be possible to develop drugs or behaviour changing techniques that could increase or decrease people’s conformity.

    ———————————————–

    Any bets on WHO they want to think and behave differently? WN’s of course. That is a no-brainer.

    I already have my suspicions that they have already tried this on those gullible, naive Whites who just love diversity and inclusiveness. Especially the White Christians.

  • Anonymous

    If anyone wants to feel a little bit more hopeless than they already do, then watch a youtube video about the asch conformity experiments. Most people will conform to anything no matter how obviously wrong it is.

  • Anonymous

    Yes, and remember, there were pills to stop baldness…

    And one day, there would be a CURE for cancer…

    And…

    Just crap to fill a page.

    Remember that Journalists (I gotta’ laugh when using that word) always print or blather about the latest scientific data, which are disproven the next month.

    Just crap here…

  • Anonymous

    What better way to emasculate our military….just have them change their thinking and behavior towards our enemies….problem solved.

    This is EVIL and will be used FOR evil. They can wipe out the whole White race by making them compliant to their own destruction. Get it, folks????

  • Anonymous

    Loonies fly toward the issues of Mind Control by the government

    like flies toward honey. This should not obscure the calm

    appraisal of likelihoods about this sort of thing. Within the

    more knowledgeable sections of the U.S. Army, there is little

    doubt about the existence of such technology as drugs not known within regular medicine and radiation and other remote means of

    affecting brain functioning. Rational treatment of the whole

    topic can not get far beyond considering the likelihoods of what science affords. Folks that “know” they’ve been targets are not the starting place to slowly piece together operating assumptions about what-might-be-what in this domain of darkness. The really irrational position about this topic is a comfy apathy that insists in its own comfy defense upon a standard of proof that will never be forthcoming within the circumstances peculiar to this topic. Informed vigilance is about as far as we can get now.

  • cpascal

    The discovery that conformists and non-conformists have brain differences is more evidence that we’re born with many of our personality traits. Not long ago, there was an interesting article in Psychology Today about a study which found that there are brain differences between introverts and extroverts. If academia really valued diversity, they would accept people for their strengths as individuals, instead of trying to cure certain personality traits. And it is dangerous to think what drugs and treatments to treat one’s level of conformity could be used for. There are enough politically-incorrect opinions which the psychiatrists are trying to convince us are signs of mental illness.

  • Urban Teacher

    The research article was published in the Journal of Neuroscience, which is the journal of the Society for Neuroscience.

    http://goo.gl/nqa6q

    This sort of research falls into the category of “The New Phrenology” (book by W. R. Uttal), which appears to be a long-lasting, and well-funded, fad.

  • john in germany

    I’ll bet the placebo effect in a study of this drug would be

    interesting.

  • Alexandra

    @#4: This White Christian is against all the diversity and political correctness nonsense. There are some of us Christians who actually *gasp!* believe the Bible; therefore we’re all for each race having its own nation(s) and against miscegenation and the like. These professing Christians who embrace diversity don’t believe their Bibles, or they’re listening to someone who twists Scripture around.

    Now that having been said…seems they have a drug for everything. You can’t even watch the idiot box without seeing ads for all those wonderful new drugs out there! (And of course, any sane person, upon hearing about the side effects, would wonder if they’re not better off without said drugs!)

  • Robert Binion

    Unfortunately, the antidote for nonconformity comes only in suppository.

  • Anonymous

    12 — Alexandra wrote at 4:07 PM on September 7:

    @#4: This White Christian is against all the diversity and political correctness nonsense. There are some of us Christians who actually *gasp!* believe the Bible; therefore we’re all for each race having its own nation(s) and against miscegenation and the like. These professing Christians who embrace diversity don’t believe their Bibles, or they’re listening to someone who twists Scripture around.

    ————————————————-

    Yes, I know they don’t believe their Bibles nor know how to even read and comprehend their Bibles. They listen to their TV fake pastor heroes, and Christian radio programs that say we are all the same and that mixing the races is fine. They love to fill their churches with nonwhites in among the White Christians. They bring in millions of nonwhites and plop them down in White towns all over America. They go to Africa, Haiti, etc and beg for our money to “help” feed them all, they adopt them and bring them here to live. They say this is what Jesus would want us to do as Christians. Those are the ones I am talking about. They make up 95% of Christians in America today. I do not know of ONE mainstream “Church” in this country that preaches separation of the races and that our nation should be a nation for Whites only. Not one.

  • down the bayou

    this is deeply disturbing. when they found that oxytocin increases ethnocentrism and they wanted to find a drug to affect it. now they can interfere with the conformity part of the brain. george orwell’s nightmare.

  • diversity equals adversity

    avandia, paxil, welbutrin, i could go on but you get the picture. how many drugs are put on the market and then recalled for causing horrible side affects and deformities?