Experiments have shown that a desire to conform to certain norms seems to be a fundamental human trait. Usually this desire manifests itself in response to ambiguity. When we don't know exactly what to make of an event or an idea, being fundamentally social creatures, we tend to turn to the judgement of others, who of course, are doing the same thing.
Yet personality traits, many of which are related to experiences, can intensify our need to conform. A lack of self-confidence, connected to a sense of perceived inferiority, can cause a person to want to conform, as can finding oneself in unfamiliar surroundings. In addition, school leaders, business managers, and, most chillingly, politicians, can create an enviroment where conformity is highly valued. People seek approval from other people, and adhering to social norms is one way to get it. Unfortunately, this can lead people to engage in behaviors they know may be self-destructive or contrary to their value systems.