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Abstract

The self-regulation of conformity has received little attention in previous research. This is surprising because group majorities can exert social strong pressure on people, leading them to overlook the pursuit of their own goals. We investigated if self-regulation by mental contrasting with implementation intentions (MCII) can reduce people’s tendency to conform and facilitate their own goal-pursuit despite deviant majority influence. In a computer-based logical reasoning task, we exposed participants to a conformity manipulation, where we presented bogus diagrams showing the supposedly correct answers of a majority ingroup. Compared to participants who were not given a self-regulation strategy (Studies 1, 2, and 4) or who were in an active control group (Study 3), MCII helped participants to self-regulate conforming behavior in trying to solve the task and to independently solve the logical reasoning task, as indicated by increases in correct answers in the task. The findings suggest that MCII is an effective strategy to regulate people’s tendency to conform and supports them to attain their goal despite deviant majority influence.