Lessons from the Elevator Conformity Experiment

Lessons from the Elevator Conformity ExperimentLessons from the Elevator Conformity ExperimentLessons from the Elevator Conformity Experiment

The Elevator Conformity Experiment. We focus so much on winning in life that we often forget how important it is to socialize. After all, man is a social animal. Try as we might to deny it, we are born with an innate urge to conform. Individuality is great, but only so long as it doesn’t stray TOO far from the norm. The Elevator Experiment justifies this in a beautifully simple way. In 1962, social psychologist Solomon Asch ran an experiment where a person would enter an elevator and discover that everybody else was facing the rear. ‘Hmmm. This is strange.’ Well, even with an almond sized brain, everyone might be able to guess what happened next. At first there is awkward hesitation. Something is wrong, but the man can’t quite put his finger on what it is. An urge begins to rise that he doesn’t understand, a scratch in a place that doesn’t exist. It bothers him so much that without even realizing it, the man begins to turn. Well, would you look at the time! Already 180 degrees o’clock! And just like that, it’s done. This man; intelligent, well-educated and fully capable of logic, has completely succumbed to social pressure. Gone was all rational thought, replaced by the most basic herd mentality. Now you know why they call us a social ANIMAL. He doesn’t know why, he doesn’t even know how, but for the first time in his life this man is going to stare at the wall the whole way up just because he thought it obligatory to follow the norm. That’s our whole life explained in a nutshell. We observe and mirror. That’s how it’s been, that’s how it will probably always be.

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