Monday, November 12, 2007

Resisting Influence: Social Proof

Cialdini’s Principles of Social Influence

Social Proof
[Context: Consensus]

A means to determine what is correct by finding out what other people think is correct.
A person tends to view behavior as more correct in a given context (to the degree that one sees others performing it)

The Basics
  • Principle can be used to stimulate a person’s compliance by informing the individual that many other individuals have been complying (unanimous compliance and compliance by famous or authoritative people is most effective)
  • Provides us with a shortcut for determining how to behave – while at the same time, makes one vulnerable to persuasion experts
  • Most influential under two conditions:
    Uncertaintysituation is ambiguous; become more likely to attend to the actions of others and accept those actions as more correct
    Similarity people are inclined to follow the lead of similar others
How It's Exploited
  • The Bandwagon effect – everyone who is anyone is doing it, why not YOU?
  • The "In Crowd" has it right, do you want them to accept you or not? So act like them
  • As described by C. S. Lewis in “The Inner Ring” (Chp. 12 Lucifer Effect), the power of social proof flows from a combination of our desire to be part of the special inner circle and the social manipulators who recognize this need and try to lure us into false inner circles that exploit us.

Best Defense
  • Reduce susceptibility to this principle by developing counterarguments for what similar people are doing, and recognizing that their actions should not form the sole basis of your own
  • Be aware that the others may have a biased reason for the action they are advocating
  • Be aware that the others may be misinformed
  • "Group-think"
Remember that the entire group may be headed in the wrong direction:
The leader may have biased their opinions

©2006-2007, Philip G. Zimbardo