The Unintentional Nonconformist: Habits Promote Resistance to Social influence

Asaf Mazar, Guy Itzchakov, Alicea Lieberman, Wendy Wood

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This research tests a novel source of resistance to social influence—the automatic repetition of habit. In three experiments, participants with strong habits failed to align their behavior with others. Specifically, participants with strong habits to drink water in a dining hall or snack while working did not mimic others’ drinking or eating, whereas those with weak habits conformed. Similarly, participants with strong habits did not shift expectations that they would act in line with descriptive norms, whereas those with weak habits reported more normative behavioral expectations. This habit resistance was not due to a failure to perceive influence: Both strong and weak habit participants’ recalled others’ behavior accurately, and it was readily accessible. Furthermore, strong habit participants shifted their normative beliefs but not behavior in line with descriptive norms. Thus, habits create behavioral resistance despite people’s recognition and acceptance of social influence.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1058-1070
Number of pages13
JournalPersonality and Social Psychology Bulletin
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jul 2023

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022 by the Society for Personality and Social Psychology, Inc.


  • habit
  • mimicry
  • resistance
  • social influence
  • social norms

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology


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