The motive to fit in often compels people to do what is considered appropriate behavior in a given situation. Sometimes the compulsion to fit in leads people to say or do something at odds with their sense of self. No one wants to be perceived as weird. Therefore, when the situation calls for a certain kind of behavior, people are likely to comply, even when that behavior is not consistent with their self-concept.

For this Discussion, you will examine conflict between a person’s behavior and sense of Be sure to review the Learning Resources before completing this activity.
Click the weekly resources link to access the resources.


Think of a specific situation when you said or did something that you believed was out of character. Note: You will use this specific situation for this Discussion so make sure the situation is one you feel comfortable sharing with your colleagues.
Post a description of a specific situation when you said or did something that conflicted with your beliefs or was out of character. To what would you attribute behavior that did not reflect your sense of self? What compelled you to say or do something that misrepresented your true self? Your analyses must be informed by social psychology theory and research.


Aronson, E., Wilson, T. D., Akert, R. M., & Sommers, S. R. (Eds.) (2019). Social Psychology (10th ed.). Boston, MA: Pearson.
Chapter 1, “Introducing Social Psychology”

Annenberg Learner. (n.d.). The power of the situationLinks to an external site. [Video file]. Retrieved February 24, 2020, from
Note: The approximate length of this media piece is 27 minutes.


In social psychology, the power of the situation refers to the influence of external factors on individual behavior. People are highly sensitive to social norms, expectations, and the desire to fit in with their social group. This can sometimes lead individuals to say or do things that are inconsistent with their personal beliefs or sense of self.

One theory that can explain this phenomenon is the concept of self-presentation or impression management. Individuals often engage in strategic behavior to create a favorable impression in social situations. They may conform to social norms or expectations to gain acceptance and avoid negative evaluations. This desire for social approval can override their authentic self-expression.

Another relevant theory is cognitive dissonance theory, which suggests that individuals experience psychological discomfort when their beliefs and behaviors are inconsistent. To reduce this discomfort, people may modify their beliefs or engage in behaviors that align with the situation, even if it contradicts their true selves.

For example, imagine a situation where an individual who values honesty and integrity finds themselves in a group where everyone is engaging in gossip or spreading rumors. Despite their personal beliefs, they might feel compelled to participate in gossip to fit in and avoid social rejection.

In such cases, the behavior that conflicts with their beliefs can be attributed to the power of the situation and the social pressures to conform. The need for social acceptance, fear of judgment, or the desire to avoid conflict can override their sense of self and lead to behavior that misrepresents their true values.

It’s important to note that individuals may experience internal conflict and distress when their behavior is inconsistent with their beliefs or sense of self. However, social psychology research suggests that people are often motivated to maintain a positive self-image and seek social acceptance, which can lead to conformity in certain situations.

By understanding the influence of social situations on behavior, we can gain insights into why individuals may act in ways that contradict their true selves. Recognizing these factors can help us develop a better understanding of human behavior and the complexities of social interaction.

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