Behaviour Change

PROPAGANDA FOR CHANGE is a project created by the students of Behaviour Change (ps359) and Professor Thomas Hills at the Psychology Department of the University of Warwick. This work was supported by funding from Warwick's Institute for Advanced Teaching and Learning.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Is it a bird? Is it a plane? No, it's social proof.

Ever wondered how to make a group of people do something? It's simple, just do it yourself and a majority of them will follow suit. This guy wanted a dance party, so he started dancing himself!   

Why did this work?

Social proof, of course! This is the idea that we look to the actions of others in a given situation, to determine what is the socially acceptable and correct way to behave (Cialdini, 1993). 

In a simple, yet brilliant social experiment, Milgram and colleagues demonstrated this effect by having confederates on a New York Street look up at a 6th floor window, and see how many passersby would look as well (Milgram, Bickman, & Berkowitz, 1969). In all, they observed 1,424 pedestrians who passed along 50 feet of a busy sidewalk. There were 30 trials, 5 each of  1, 2, 3, 5, 10 or 15 confederates in the centre of this space, looking up for 60 seconds.  Videos were taken for each of the 1 min trials and analysed. 

The percentage of people who followed the gaze of the confederates was quite high! With just one confederate looking up, 42% of the passersby also looked. This number increased with an increase in the number of confederates. With 15 of them, a whopping 86% of the passersby also looked up. Not only did people look in that direction, but some also stopped to look. 4% stopped with just one confedreate whereas this number increased to 40% when 15 confederates were looking at the window. 
Figure 1 shows Milgram et al's findings. 






This study not only shows that people will copy other people's behaviours but also that the more number of people are exhibiting a certain behaviour, the more others are likely to follow. This compliance technique has been proved over and over again.

So, if you ever want people to do something, grab a few friends and do it yourself! People will join in for sure. It would be quite entertaining to see how many people would copy your behaviour if a bunch of you stood in the middle of the Piazza and just looked to the sky for a while.  




REFEREENCES
Cialdini, R. (1993). Influence: Science and Practice. New York: Harper Collins

Milgram, S., Bickman, L., Berkowitz, L. (1969). Note on the drawing power of crowds of different sizes. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 13, 79-82

Geetanjali Basarkod

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