Gender, Confidence & Conformity — What is the Connection?

T. W. Moore
5 min readJan 5, 2022

Ever since the landmark research of Polish-American psychologist Solomon Asch, the scientific community has been aware of the human tendency to conform in the face of societal influence. Majority influence can impact an individual’s confidence in their perception of reality, indications of which we can see in the communities around us every day.

Acknowledging the phenomenon of social conformity leads to more questions about who may be most susceptible to social conformity and under which contexts. The purpose of the article “Sex Differences in Confidence Influence Patterns of Conformity” by Catherine P. Cross, Gillian R. Brown, Thomas J. H. Morgan, and Kevin N. Laland that appeared in the British Journal of Psychology was to contribute to the understanding of how gender and confidence mediate social conformity.

The authors of this study note that “experimental studies have confirmed that human beings are more likely to use social information when lacking confidence” (Cross et al, 2017). Additionally, they state that “the psychological literature on confidence strongly suggests that women have lower confidence than men in a variety of contexts” (Cross et al, 2017). While previous literature has also shown that women are, on average, more likely to conform than men, “the use of social information by men and women varies according to the gender-stereotyped content of the task” (Cross et al, 2017).

Therefore, the researchers in this article set about to determine whether confidence levels in men and women predicted levels of social conformity in the absence of gender-stereotyped testing methods. The researchers hypothesized that even when controlling for gender-stereotyped testing methods, there would be an indirect effect of sex on social conformity, mediated by confidence (Cross et al, 2017).

Researching Confidence & Conformity

To explore this research question, the researchers selected a sample of 168 participants. 54 women and 33 men performed the MR task, and 51 women and 28 men performed the LT task. The tests lasted about 20–30 minutes and each participant received £5 for each test and told that they would receive a bonus £5 ($6.75 USD) for correct answers

T. W. Moore

Author of “A Voice From Inside” | JW PIMO | Writing about Psychology, Mental Health, Religious Trauma & Jehovah’s Witnesses.