Using Other People as Shortcut – Social Proof...

We appear to believe that what others think is correct. In an unknown situation we will look at the behavior of others, and copy-paste this to ourselves. Yet even in situations where we do know how to act, people can let us astray and make us follow their choices. The plurality of the truths of others appears more important than what we think ourselves. Ten people know more than one and so if we don’t know what to do; we better look at the behavior of others. It sounds very reasonable to think this way and we do it very often too. There is one major issue with this ‘shortcut’ in our thinking. We take it for granted that those other people do know what needs to be done. And this assumption might be false. Incorrect Examples Suppose all the examples of behavior you are seeing are not correct? Suppose everybody is acting just as unknowing as you are. Each of you will be copying the behavior of someone else. If, by accident, the first person (whom everyone started to copy) acted silly, you might all end up acting ridiculous. Lun et al. found that this principle influences greatly what we perceive as correct and incorrect behavior. The more often we see option A in situation X, the more we will appreciate option A in this situation. Using it for the better Bandura and Menlove reduced children’s fear for dogs. They provided the children with different pictures of others playing with dogs. Pictures were enough to make a change. The biggest change was found when pictures were shown where several people played with a dog: the more the better to prove that dogs aren’t scary. In a situation where...