Danger, Will Robinson, Danger! (Blog)
Use this thread to discuss the following entry from Erin Pavlina's blog:
Danger, Will Robinson, Danger!
Confidence (or lack of) is the main theme I derive from this experiment.
In my life, I like to sit and observe the most confident person within a particular group. The most confident person(s) consciously (sometimes subconsciously) prescribe themselves as being the most confident in the group.
The other people in the group automatically place themselves on a 'confidence ladder' unique to this group.
In my opinion, people subjectivly believe that everyone has somehow received a printout of this ladder and conform to the restraints it imposes. If at any moment a person who puts themselves lower on the ladder wishes to say or do something, they mentally check to see if the proposed behaviour will conform to their 'imaginary ladder'. People who place themselves at the top of this ladder will do or say anything they like, hence further reinforcing their (self-imposed) dominant position.
Being a generally unconfident person, I know that on certain occasions I have carried out a pre-meditated plan to exude confidence. When I have done this, I radiate confidence and the group conforms to my plan. Amazing. Surely simple psychology, but amazingly effective.
Unfortunately there are areas in my life e.g. my workplace, where I have imposed a certain negative 'confidence ladder' upon myself. So, by originally placing myself low on this ladder when I began working, I find it extremely difficult to snap out of it and exhibit this fresh, free and fragrant person I wish to be in this area. However, there are areas where I am certain large groups of people place me at the top of the group ladder because I acted confidently from day 1. I've learnt a lot from these types of experiences.
I don't study psychology formally, but would be interested to know what formal theories there are relating to this kind of situation. ;)
I must admit I think a fire alarm may have been a poor choice for this experiment. Really, in all the fire alarms you've heard go off in your life - how many have been real fires and how many have been fire drills? Even the 2 I've been in that were real fires, I could have stayed where I was and not been affected in anyway. Obviously this is not always true but I think it is pretty much general experience. So what if they'd had a different sounding alarm and a voice saying "radiation leak, radiation leak, please evacuate the building" - I wonder how many people would have gotten up and left then?
First of all, the researchers were testing a specific fire alarm system for the company that made it. So it had to be a fire alarm.
Secondly, this new fire alarm detected the actual location of the fire and reported it. That's a lot more specific than just "fire, fire, fire"
I'm pretty sure that if I heard a voice on a speaker say, "Fire has been detected in room 245, please evacuate the building immediately" I would stand up and leave.
years of being in the military has conditioned me to respond to warning, safety and security indicators.
what I find interesting is that I know that I have observed and ignored warning signs in other parts of my life such as my relationships. I need to look into this.
I can vouch for the "fear of embarrassment" response. A few years ago at my high school, my parents and I were at an awards banquet for some kind of scholarships (I can't remember the occasion very well). Without warning, the fire alarm went off. There was no smoke or evidence of fire, but neither was there any proof that it was a false alarm. Nobody even moved to get up. I was wondering what was wrong with these people, and started to slowly stand up. No one moved, and my parents looked at me as if to say, "What are you doing? Sit back down." I didn't move, not sure what to do, and a few seconds later--about a minute after the fire alarm had started--it finally stopped. I think I was the only person there who even started to react. I don't know what caused the false alarm; at the time I thought maybe my reaction was immature, and I was too easily agitated, and that everyone else's response was the mature one. I started to think otherwise after I'd become a little more objective and clear-minded about the issue...
As the blog post and sourceofmiracles have said, it makes a very good analogy for a lot of consciousness-related topics.
Of course if they were testing a new style fire alarm, then no doubt they built it just because they understood how little attention many of us pay to fire alarms :D
In the book "Influence: The Power of Persuasion" ,Robert Cialdini talks about "following the crowd's example" (along with other ways we're subconsciously influenced). One of his examples is even more graphic - where a number of people stood in their apt windows (in NY?) and watched a woman get murdered without doing a thing to help her (because they could see all the other people watching and doing nothing). He believes that it is an instinctual mechanism we use to find the "right" behavior - by checking out other's behavior.
He suggested that you could affect people in these types of situations by asking each one specifically to help you. So rather than the general "Hey everyone, there's a fire, lets get out of here" saying "You, in the green shirt, let's go, there's a fire" or maybe "You, in the red shirt, go find someone and ask them if there's a really a fire" ;)
That's a whole different issue than catching yourself in the "act" of following the crowd though.
Yes I've heard something similar. In an emergency you don't want to yell, "someone call 911!" because no one feels responsible for doing it. But if you point to someone and say, "Call 911!" they will. They feel responsible.
And I'd speculate from your interesting post it might also have something to do with the pack mind. After I read about the Alpha/Beta theory of behavior, a lot of things clicked for me.
It was instrumental in my 2 years of service in the army where I observed such behavior first hand, the alpha males demonstrate alpha behavior and the rest of the pack follows.
It could be that in a situation like that, people look towards the alpha (the most confident person in the room like you state) to lead them, even into behaviors of in-action.
I've heard it said once that in any uncertain situation, the one with the most certainty will lead.
lol, no, I don't follow the crowd.... "Some people follow the crowd, I hope it'll be what they want..."
When I was younger I tried a crazy thing. "doing just the opposite of what majority does", in almost everything. Well, in some things I was wrong... but I mostly continue to do the oppossite of what majority does.
For instance, I am here.
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