Social proof is also a convenient shortcut for decision making.
Kids who are scared to play with dogs become willing to merely by showing them videos of other kids playing with dogs.
Similar results with socially withdrawn kids.
Social proof works very well when you’ve made a commitment to something that turned out to be wrong. If others around you reaffirm their commitments, so will you.
Cause of Death: Uncertain(ty)
The bystander effect was originally explained by apathy. But the tragedy doesn’t occur in spite of the bystanders, but because of them.
Often, or initially, there is doubt as to whether there is an emergency. When a person sees no one else act, they use this as “proof” that there is no emergency.
When there is a single bystander, he/she is much more likely to assist (85% vs 31%).
Once a bystander is sure there is an emergency, (s)he is very likely to help - regardless of social proof. The bystander effect is much more prominent when one is not sure.
Calling for help is not enough. It is too broad. And not directed at anyone. Instead, point to a specific person, and make a request (e.g. “Call 9-1-1.”). When you do that, social proof actually helps. When one person acts, others are much more likely to as well.
Monkey Me, Monkey Do
Two big factors that affect social proof: Uncertainty and similarity. People are less likely to be impacted by social proof if they do not view themselves to be similar to others.
The Jonestown massacre likely could not have occurred in California. But since all these Americans were in Guyana, the effect of social proof was heightened. The only people who were like them were in the community.