Conformity occurs when a larger group dampens the expression of differences in the individual.
In the videos below, metronomes are started at different times, but slowly conform to an overall rhythm. Why? As Robert Krulwich at NPR explains:
As the metronomes tick back and forth, they affect the table, and because the table is designed to absorb the motion of the metronomes, the table itself starts to move. Now that the table is rocking ever so slightly, it begins to affect the metronomes on top. Metronomes that are moving with the table keep doing that. Metronomes not in sync with the table have their motions dampened, then countered, until they do it “the table’s way.” Eventually all the metronomes come into alignment.
If you can’t get enough of this, and want to see what happens when an individualistic metronome strives to fight the power, here’s another video of 32 metronomes:
Happy Memorial Day (in the US).