The best way to differentiate between real and imagined group pressure is to pose your question to the group (or any prominent (or trusted) members at your immediate disposal). If, for instance, you’re in a business setting (maybe a managerial team) and are faced with a scenario in which you’re not sure if you agree with the motivation for some of the decisions being made, rather than flow along and not say anything it would be better to to ask your supervisor or another member of the team that you trust if your perception of the group’s motives are correct or a misguided one. Ask two or three people … even better, ask an outgroup member what they think.
Collecting information before you make a decision is never a bad thing, and keeping in mind that you can always find affirming information for your perspective if that’s what you’re looking for is probably a good idea too. The individual is always confronted with a basic integration of the personal ethic into the group ethic. It’s a good thing to compare the group’s morals and motives to your own. It’s too easy to be swayed by the crowd and to “go along to get along” you have to have your moral compass set on cognitive go. Make sure you’re not just conforming because as we all know our behaviors can change our attitudes (Myers, 2010) and acceptance is not far behind.