# Conformity – Mind Field (Ep 2)

published on July 13, 2020

So welcome, everyone My name's Ron, and your task is to choose the line on the right that matches the line on the left All right, this seems like an easy enough task: which line on the right is the same length as the one on the left?

The answer is clearly three One – One – One Why is everyone saying one? Are their eyes not working?

Have we just discovered some new type of illusion? No, the answer is, we paid them to lie ♪ ♪ Today, we are going to be demonstrating a very famous psychological experiment

Known as the "Asch experiment" This experiment tests conformity and whether or not a person will say something incorrect simply because everyone else is What matters more?

Being right or fitting in? ♪ ♪ We have five professional actors that have been instructed to do as we say Often, they will be lying

About what they think the answer is But in position number five, a real participant who has no idea what's going on will be seated Now, their task is to match the length of the line on the left with one of the lines on the right

But what if everyone else in the room gave the wrong answer? Would you be bold enough to stick out and say what you saw, or would you just fit in because it's easier or less uncomfortable?

Well, let's find out So welcome, everyone My name's Ron Your task is to choose the line on the right that matches the line on the left I'll just call on you individually, you know, in order, one through six

The calm before the storm Okay, so let's begin The first few times, we're gonna have the actors say the correct answer to gain the trust of our subject

The correct answer here is three Three Three – Number three – Number three Three – One – One

– Number one – Number one Number one Now they're all gonna start lying The correct answer is three Let's see what our subject does One

One Pretty quickly, she appears to be confused One Um, okay, number one Number one Three

One ♪ ♪ You can see participant five closing one eye, then the other, trying to figure out why everyone's wrong But she's not going along with them

Again, the correct answer is three Let's see what our subject does Number one Number one Yeah, number one Number one

Three? She's sticking to her guns, but she appears to be uncomfortable opposing the group This time, the correct answer is two Three

Three Number three Number three Number three Wow Three

She's falling in line Will she do it again? The correct answer is three – One – One – Number one – Number one Number one

Conformed Conformity The desire to fit in Peer pressure These are powerful social forces that shape our actions and beliefs

And influence how we behave as individuals and as a society In the original Asch experiments first carried out by Solomon Asch in 1951, approximately 75% of subjects

Conformed at least once One Hi, Ron Sorry to butt in, guys My name is Michael I just wanted to kind of ask you a few questions about the study you've been doing

This is a study on conformity And everyone in this room is an actor, except for you, number five Oh, my God! Oh, my God! This is so crazy

And they've all been instructed to give the wrong answers to see if you'll follow along – Whoa – You did say the wrong answer after everyone else had said the wrong answer Why did you do it?

I thought, "There's something going on here "I don't know what to do, so I'm just gonna say what they said" How did it feel to do that? It it felt it felt like I was drinking the Kool-Aid, like

– – It's very normal This study wouldn't be as famous as it was if it wasn't normal, though it is surprising, because so many of us would say, "No, I would always say what's real" Right Right

Would you? Right, no Clearly not all the time, yeah All right, thank you very much ♪ ♪ People follow the crowd in all kinds of interesting ways,

Many of which are pretty funny Classical psychological experiments and hidden camera pranks often involve people acting together in strange ways to see if others will conform Now, there's nothing inherently irrational

About following the crowd in ways like those Conforming can be a form of social lubrication It's just easier to do what someone else is doing, because to break from that norm would be to slow things down If everyone's facing the same way in an elevator,

It's not like you lose your personal sense of identity by turning along with them Instead, you're just going with the flow and not being awkward If I see a bunch of people on the street looking up, and I decide to look up too,

There's nothing inherently bad about that I mean, what it costs for me to look up is really low compared to the potential harm that might come from me not seeing an imminent threat Sometimes, conformity is harmless

Even laughter can be a form of conformity We laugh if something is funny, but we also tend to laugh if people around us are laughing, even if we don't get the joke There are a lot of social forces behind this:

Politeness, a fear of looking stupid, and no doubt a desire to conform: to fit in Let's see what happens when there's even more pressure to see something that's unfunny as hilarious

We've invited these people to participate in a psychological experiment But here's the thing: everyone in this room is an actor, except this guy

He thinks he's just killing time in this waiting room before the experiment begins But this is the experiment, and that's no joke Hey, how's everyone doing today?

My name's Michael Nice to meet you all Thanks for participating It's important that everyone be kind of in a chatty mood So here's a question: anyone got some good jokes?

– I have a great one – Oh, yeah? Why did the hipster burn his mouth on coffee? Because he drank it way before it was cool – Get it, yeah? – I get it, yeah Our subject thinks the real joke is funny,

But keep in mind, the joke I'm going to tell is complete nonsense It's not funny It's just words Everyone but the subject has been instructed to laugh at it The question is, will the pressure to conform make the subject laugh?

Okay, how about this one? Uh, a giraffe is at the airport going through the TSA line And the security agent says, "Hey, is this your laptop?" And the giraffe says,

"I thought you'd never ask" Oh, my God You guys have never heard that before? – No, never – No – It's pretty famous – I didn't

This is a classic example of conformity Even when the crowd acts in a way that makes no sense, the need to fit in can still be very strong Okay, how about this one? Uh, two penguins are driving in a car The driver says, "Hey, could you change the radio station?"

And the other one says, "No radio Four wheels" That was better Laughter can be a powerful tool for social conformity, which is exactly why sitcoms use canned laughter

How do you feel about courtin' right now? Uncle Jake, if there was a pretty girl on the other side of this house, I'd jump clean over it The laugh track entices you at home to laugh along,

Even when a joke might not be that funny So will our other subjects feel compelled to laugh at our meaningless joke? So a giraffe is at the airport And it's in the security line, and the TSA agent says,

"Is this your laptop?" And the giraffe says, "I thought you'd never ask" "Hey, is this your laptop?" And the giraffe says,

"I thought you would never ask" – – What? Since our subjects are in a conforming mood let's take this a step further Hey, I need a Katie and Lauren to come with me for your interview

– Sure – Let's see how committed they are to fitting in Will they repeat the nonsensical joke to another one of our actors? We were telling jokes earlier Should I say the, uh

– Yes – The giraffe? Okay So Hey, uh, Tim, I need you to come with me for your interview Okay Good I guess the joke has to wait

Yeah Dude, you tell it – You tell it, bro – Well No, you got it You got it Say it Okay, so the giraffe is in a line in a TSA line – Okay – Waiting

And the and the agent asks him, "Is that your laptop?" And he was like, "I thought you'd never ask" ♪ ♪ I don't I don't get it Yeah, it's gonna take you a while to get it

Okay And he says, um, "I thought you'd never ask" What's the funny part? I don't know I I found it funny And it's a giraffe It's not a human

– And you thought it was funny? – Yeah What was the funny part, though? Like I think it was the funny part was the laptop, 'cause you know how he's so tall? Hmm

Do these subjects really think my meaningless joke is funny? It's time to let them in on what's really going on Everyone here today except for you is an actor – Okay – We have all been instructed to laugh at that dumb giraffe joke,

Which is not even a joke It's just a meaningless thing And then we see if the one person who isn't in on it, which in this round was you how they respond Why did you never say,

"What?" I think it was people laughing around me, and I was trying to understand why that was funny And then I had to make sense of it in my mind, and then I think I made it funny to myself That process of mental gymnastics

Is known as cognitive dissonance When you've done something you don't truly believe in, like laughing just because everyone else did, you'll often try to come to terms with your behaviour through denial and justification It's not a joke; I just made that up, and it's nonsense

I know, that's why I thought it was funny 'Cause it just made no sense? Yeah, that's why I don't know That's crazy, though, 'cause it did make me laugh – – Everyone does that

– Yeah – It's typical human behaviour Yeah It's true, though To go with the flow and to keep things moving It's about just being a good, social person It's definitely a a conformity thing

One of the most disappointing and terrifying aspects of our desire not to stand out is the bystander effect People are less likely to help victims if other people are around One of the most famous examples

Is told in Psych 101 classes all over the world It's the story of Kitty Genovese, a woman who was brutally stabbed and raped in New York City in 1964 It was a murder that symbolised

The apathy of many to big-city crime On a March night back in 1964, 28-year-old bar manager Kitty Genovese was stabbed to death on a street in Kew Gardens, Queens Police say at least 38 people

Heard her screams but did nothing to help The hypothesis was that each and every one of them assumed someone else would call the police, so they didn't have to bother to do so themselves It wasn't their responsibility,

So the police were never called And Kitty died ♪ ♪ But here's the thing: Kitty's story may not be an example of conformity,

At least not in the way we normally think, because most of it was totally untrue 38 people didn't witness the attack As it turns out, the actual number of witnesses who could have helped and didn't may have been as few as two,

And people did call the police Samuel Hoffman spent three or four minutes on hold before finally reaching a police dispatcher So where did the number 38 come from? It's theorised that the police commissioner actually lied to a reporter

About the number of witnesses who did nothing in order to cover up why the police took so long to arrive at the scene of the crime And the narrative of uncaring New Yorkers turning a blind eye to a woman's murder spread around the world,

Making front page headlines As more and more sources repeated reports they'd heard, rather than going back to investigate the truth, a psychological phenomenon known as information cascade took place

An information cascade develops when people have little information themselves, so they depend on inferences they can make based on earlier people's actions So the conformity wasn't on the part of the eyewitnesses It was in the reporting of the story

There's a saying in journalism: "Some stories are too good to check" I'm going to give you this cup that contains lysergic acid 100 micrograms

Clinical trials: they can be enlightening, frightening, dangerous It seems to want to take me over too much, you see, and I don't want to let myself go

And also the perfect high-stakes setting to test the power of conformity ♪ ♪ This is Emma She thinks she's taking part in a group study

To measure the side effects of a new hallucinogenic drug So the drug that you are helping us research today is NC-47 Today we're investigating possible side effects You know, there've been some audio-visual distortions

You may see some images behind your eyes um, you know, some general feelings of either calmness or euphoria We're trying to examine those a little further and find out a little bit more about how this drug is affecting everybody

Emma is already looking to the rest of the group for comfort Just take a cup, and just hang onto it Okay If everyone else is participating willingly, it must be okay for her, too

We're all, like, scared to death Okay Go ♪ ♪ But here's the catch:

Our subject didn't take a hallucinogenic drug at all It was simply a shot of flavoured water Just relax and concentrate We'll give this just a little bit of time to set in It doesn't take long for our actors to feel

The supposed side effects of the so-called drug It's like a like a line that goes across It's almost like I'm looking through a kaleidoscope, but it's, like, fuzzy Will our test subject go along with the group?

Or will she be bold enough to stand out and say the truth? It's like a like a lava lamp sort of thing Hmm Emma? Um, I honestly

I don't see anything – Mm – I don't see any shadows, shapes I'm like, "Come on, I want to see a shape" But I don't see anything, no Emma's honesty is making her an outsider

Notice how she says she wants to feel the side effects, which would enable her to fit in with the group You can all sit down again Okay, I want to do the audio test We're just gonna go down the line, and I want you to just say the word "hello"

Here's another opportunity for Emma to conform Will she go along with the group when she sees the actors pretend to experience an auditory reaction to the alleged drug? Hello Louder

Um, hello! And how did that feel? What's your reaction? I hear, like, a delay Like, um Yeah, it could be called an echo – It's more like a – Mm-hmm

Like a reverb or something Yup, that's very common All right, Ivory Hello Hello It's almost like, you know, when you watch a video,

And it's just like just the tiniest bit out of sync so you just barely notice it? Mm-hmm All right, Emma? Hello Hello? Hello

Yeah, it is echoing, like you had a shot like you had a shot of vodka – – Something like that, like Yeah, acute audio distortion is really common Okay

Here we see a classic example of conformity But is she just trying to fit in or does she truly believe she's experiencing side effects now? – I'm feeling pretty chill – Ivory? I feel kind of, like, just relaxed

I just feel, like, really relaxed She's now claiming to feel multiple side effects But yeah, no, it's like I I had, like, two drinks or something Right, and in this moment now, how do you feel?

– Uh, kind of tired – Tired – Right? – Yeah – Am I the only one? – No Should we go, like, nap on that bean bag? Emma continues to look to the group for reassurance that her symptoms

Are in line with theirs I don't know if I like it I can't decide You know what I mean? What do you guys think? I don't know Whatever she thinks she's feeling,

She wants to make sure it fits in with the group The room is warmer, no? Yeah Would you take this while you were operating a motor vehicle? No, I don't think so Because

'Cause you need to concentrate on what you're doing But I just feel so relaxed Here we see an entirely new level of conformity Our subject is actually experiencing physical manifestations due to group pressure Other subjects also experienced physical sensations

That they reported in great detail Hello I hear the echo I can hear the echo So you know an echo would go out, then in? This is, like, just an in I just feel, like, sensation,

Like, near my eye and nose area I feel like it's definitely getting brighter, though Okay, could you say more about the increased brightness? It's not comfortable to look at the lights, really What we're seeing from these subjects could be a form of informational conformity,

Or even what's called a contact high, a psychological phenomenon that occurs when a sober person comes into contact with someone who is under the influence of drugs

And begins to manifest the same physical symptoms I can now debrief you on what has been going on So none of you took anything but, uh, water today What?

And we're just kind of looking at the way that groups conform together We wanted to see what it would take to get someone to fall in line with the group Did you feel actual changes,

Or were you saying some things just to fit in and not stick out? No, I felt relaxed, so I don't get I can't figure it I still feel relaxed Are you surprised to have heard that you just drank water?

Yeah I definitely feel different I actually did hear, yeah, an echo The desire to conform is so strong, the subjects continue to believe in their manifested symptoms,

Even after learning the drug was fake I am prone to anxiety attacks, though, so I felt relaxed Well, you should take more of this nothing Human society is incredibly complex

And the duelling forces pushing us to conform and also to express our individuality are both necessary Other people can influence us in good ways and in not-so-good ways But at the end of the day,

Just remember this: what did the walrus say to the doctor? Give up? Cardboard Go ahead, laugh

Everyone's doing it You don't want to look like you don't get it, do you? Good, that's what I thought Thanks for laughing, and as always, thanks for watching

♪ ♪

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