Conformity is a change in beliefs or behaviors when youth yield to real or imagined social pressure. Conformity is affected by developmental level, situations, and persons involved. Young children tend to conform to their parents' rules and expectations. As children become older, they become more autonomous from their parents, and also become more peer-oriented. Conformance to parents in neutral or prosocial situations (i.e., helping, volunteering) decreases gradually as a child ages. However, peer conformity, especially to antisocial behaviors (i.e., alcohol use, criminal acts) increases with age. Youth may engage in misconduct to avoid rejection, to stay in peers' good graces, or to gain approval. Children from families that are permissive and neglectful are likely to be more susceptible to peer influence and may join gangs to feel a sense of belonging. During middle and late adolescence, youth strike a balance between conformity to parents, peers, and their own individual identity.
See also: FRIENDSHIP
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