The answer may surprise you. Whether people choose to admit it or not, which most will not, people do want to be socially accepted in some way. It is human nature; most people like to believe that they are far from “following the crowd” but, in reality and according to social experiments we are secretly engineered to follow. “Birds flock together in very neat patterns, fish school, cattle herd, social insects swarm together. So this is something that doesn’t require a lot of cognitive capacity in order to trigger the conformity. All you need to do is to see what those around you, like you, are doing. And it’s a good shortcut to deciding what you should do in a situation” (Cialdini, Dubner, 2012).
In an article by Marya Burgess her opening statement read: “Would you electrocute someone if an authority figure told you to do so? Or give a response you know to be wrong if others in your group said it was right? For more people than you might think, the answer could be yes.” This article focused on the evidence that people will most likely give in to certain situations to try to fit in with a group, even if what is being done is wrong. The article goes in to talk about an American social psychologist named Solomon Asch and one of his experiments. Asch went into his experiment believing in individual integrity but to his disappointment; found that one third of his test subjects conformed to the control group. The article also talks about experiments done by one of Asch’s students and about Dr. Philip Zimbardo’s controversial Stanford Prison experiment in 1971. All of these experiments gave evidence of social conformity.
In Asch’s line experiment; which was a basic line test on a piece of paper, the test ...
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... side was a red thumbs down. “This was a very polite way to change people’s behavior and to take out the anger that you had when someone did something terrible. But also the other person felt like “oh I’m being seen, people don’t agree with what I’m doing” and it was also shameful” (Martinez, Dubner, 2012).
The story of Bogota, Colombia is a great example of how different we react when others are watching and what others are thinking of us. Shaming helped people make better choices and avoid traffic fatalities. On the other hand, experiments done by Solomon Asch and Philip Zimbardo proved that when people are under pressure they tend to follow the crowd even when they know it might be wrong. They want to be socially accepted. Both situations show how we fall into conformity but, even though the end result may not always be good, it is part of our social norms.
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