Peer Pressure in Decision Making
Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: decision making, peer pressure, science communication, social norms and behavioural change |
“The average man is a conformist, accepting miseries and disasters with the stoicism of a cow standing in the rain.” ~Colin Wilson
Human beings are social creatures who rely on the opinions of others to aid in their decision making. Think of Stanley Milgram’s experiments regarding obedience to authority. There are many ways in which peer-to-peer interactions affect the ways in which we function, but compliance and conformity are two fairly major causes of social influence.
There are 3 main goals that individuals have in the long term:
- Accuracy – in that individuals seek practical, consistent actions that are reproducible, through the information they already have and the actions that they do. Think of it as a need to achieve goals effectively and with the greatest perceived reward.
- Affiliation – in that individuals seek gratification that their actions ingratiate them with other individuals. Think of it as a need to create social relationships with others in a meaningful, maintainable manner.
- Maintenance of a Positive Self-Impression – in that people have a constant want to increase their own self-awareness so that they can feel better about themselves. Think of it as a need to behave in a manner that boosts their pre-existing self image – through action, statement, belief etc.
There are a number of things that impact the choices we make – social norms, how much we like the people who’ve suggested the choice, how much we see the decision as a consensus, how much social approval we’re going to get etc. Think about the decisions you’ve made today – even something as small as what you wore will have been impacted by the social opinions of others. We elect not to stand out, and we elect to agree with what everyone else does.
To change societies opinion, we must bring options that don’t go against what the “tribe” want. Options that run in parallel to pre-existing ideas, that people can take on without standing out are most likely to cause changes in societies behaviours.
What do you think? Can you see these factors affecting the decisions you make on a day to day basis?
“New opinions are always suspected, and usually opposed, without any other reason but because they are not already common.” ~John Locke, An Essay Concerning Human Understanding