Social Proof

Have you ever encountered an emergency situation?  If so did you take action or did you try to avoid the situation.  Some people may even be oblivious to if an emergency situation is occurring.  Furthermore, have you ever been walking in a city and pass by a person who is in need of money, food, or clothing and not done anything to help them.  Well statistics show that if you are around people and they are also ignoring those certain individuals you may be more inclined to avoid or ignore those individuals in need as well.  There are endless amounts of situations where people look to others in order to decide how they are going to act in certain situations.  This is exactly what I will be discussing in this post, the concept of social proof and how it plays a role in persuasion.

Image result for fyre festival

To being, what is social proof? In Cialdini’s book is says that social proof “states that one means we use to determine what is correct is to find out what other people think is correct. the principal applies especially to the way we decide what constitutes correct behavior.” (116). In sum what this means is that we look to others actions to determine how we should act in certain situations.  Social proofing can happen in a number of different instances that there are a few things that make it more apt to happen.  These things include “when we are unsure of ourselves, when the situation is unclear or ambiguous, when uncertainty reigns, we are most likely to look to and accept the actions of others as correct.” (129)  Lastly, it also can depend the people we surround ourselves with to how we perceive others behavior as correct or incorrect.  According to Cialdini we most likely to agree with the actions of others who are the most similar to us.  In contrary we are most likely not to have an action in situations with a group of strangers.  This is because “we look poised and sophisticated in public and because we are unfamiliar with the reactions of those we do not know, we are unlikely to give off or correctly read expressions of concern when in grouping of strangers.” (135)

Now that we have a basic understanding of what social proof is let us look at a real life scenario.  I would like to focus how social proof was used in the failed attempt of the Fyer Festival.  This was suppose to be a music festival like no other.  There would be many great artist performing, it was to be held on a beautiful private island, and many famous beautiful celebrities would be attending the festival.  Many people saw that these famous people they admired were going to go to the festival so that shaped their actions to buy a very expensive ticket to go to the festival.  Then once more ordinary people started to buy tickets and say they were going the more other individuals actions were shaped into buying tickets.  Everyone who bought tickets were looking at people who were similar to them and were persuaded to buy a ticket because other individual were doing it.  This gave the idea that this was the correct thing to do causing more individuals to buy tickets.  Upon arrival to the festival people were shocked to find that the festival was a flop, all the artist dropped and would not be performing.  On top of that there was minimal food, and the living conditions were nothing like what was advertised.  Many people began to steal beds, food, water, and toilet paper.  Once a few people began to panic and steal things more and more people did the same.  This shows that onlookers saw what others were doing and thought that those actions were correct so they in turn followed and began to steal things for themselves.  Now that we know this be aware about how other peoples action and shape and form our own actions in the world.



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