Script & Storyboard
What causes us to make decisions in life. We think the answer is obvious. People know what's good for them. They weigh their options and make a rational decision! When a waiter in a diner asks if you'd like to order dessert after a meal the answer is easy. My belly isn't full + I love sweets = of course I'd like dessert! In other words, YOU make YOUR OWN decisions.
But what if there's 4 other people sitting at the table with you and each of them already said "No thank you", when asked if THEY would like dessert. Do you change your answer? What's happened here is explained by Jonah Berger, Stanford PHD and professor of Marketing at the Wharton School at the University of Pensilvania in his new book "Invisible Influence, The Hidden Forces that Shape Behaviour".
In 1951 Solomon Asch setup a similar experiment asking people which of these lines is the same as this one. A, B or C? Even though the answer is obvious many people answered C. How could that be? Just like at the diner, the actual subject of the test was choosing last. Before him were paid actors that gave the same wrong answer, "C, C and C". Without knowing it they influenced the subject to conform just as you conformed to decline dessert.
Nonsense! You say. That's true for others, but not me - I am free from influence. I see through the fog of external factors to make objective and powerful decisions. But Jonah Berger shows that these influences are often so strongly embedded in our nature they’re practically impossible to resist. In fact, it is not just humans. Many animals are affected by influence. Even cockroaches..
In 1969 Robert Zajonc studied the effects of a crowd on racing cockroaches. The result? Cockroaches ran faster when being watched. How amazing is that! That's not all: the same audience made them run slower when Robert made the race more difficult. Later studies showed the same happens to humans. This means you're better off finding a private spot when you're doing something difficult and gather around people when you're doing something easy.
Jonah Explains that this susceptibility to external influences isn't good OR bad. If we weren't able to react subconsciously to many different situations, life would be very inefficient. But if we learn how these influences affect us, we can use them to make our lives better and that of those around us.
How does the environment affect our actions? When should we follow others influence and when should we avoid it and go the other way? You can find the answers to these questions in Jonah's new book and we’ve worked with him to present some of his most extraordinary findings in this video series on invisible influences. Next up, mimicry, differentiation and optimal distinctiveness.