The Idea..

Over the past month of observing people and my surroundings I began to find patterns of human behaviour. I thought to myself…what would be an interesting question to ask students for BCM212?

I remember waiting outside my tutorials and lectures contemplating on why isn’t anyone going inside? Why does it take one person to initiate the movement…?

Soon after, watching the behaviours at uni, the Corona Virus hit the news and people started to panic buy everything in the shops. Again another sheep-like mentality started to form…

As a result the question I am framing in relation to the student experience is to have a deeper understanding on what creates the herd mentality also known as social conformity. So what causes people to simply accept and follow other people?

or do we have FOMO (the fear of missing out)?

During the midst of COID-19 it feels like absolute chaos with many people panicking about purchasing food and toilet paper.

I decided to take this question to twitter, to see how other students felt with this topic and many student agreed with my statement with the question apposed. As many respondents said students will just conform to what society / the peers around them are doing.

There are numerous occasions where no one is willing to make the first move and people just wait. Then finally after a while, someone takes the first step and all of a sudden the herd begins to rumble.

So why do we wait to go into a classroom? Are we waiting for the teacher to tell us we are allowed to enter or are we too indecisive to take the first step for the of uncertainty?

I ended up during all of my research becoming so fascinated with how our brains react to different environments and how maybe we are programmed to be like a flock of sheep.


Testing the waters..is there any information about this topic out there?


Now let’s consider the term FOMO, the fear of missing out.

The fear of not getting food or toilet paper saw the biggest panic-buying in Australia’s history where toilet paper and most food were cleaned from the shelves, this FOMO continues today. And to what sense…how does toilet paper and the Corona Virus link?

They don’t.

This panic buying only happened because the news generated the complete sell-out of toilet paper which generates even more panic-buying and so, just like that the panic cycle continues.

Panic brings on more panic.

The influence of others a Psychologist perspective:

β€œWhether the question is what to do with an empty popcorn box in a movie theater, how fast to drive on a certain stretch of highway, or how to eat the chicken at a dinner party, the actions of those around us will be important in defining the answer.” 

Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion, psychologist Robert Cialdini


Social Conformity

There has been an immense amount of study, research and experiments to understand what social conformity really means. The first ever experiment conducted was by Solomon Asch in 1951 and he defines the term social conformity in his experiment as:

“Social Conformity, a tendency so strong that reasonably intelligent and well-meaning young people are willing to call white black. This is a matter of concern. It raises questions about our ways of education and about the values that guide our conduct.”

Solomon Asch 1951

Further experiments have been undertaken like the 1951 experiment to test whether or not humans are like sheep. The test conducted by the television program Brain Games found that we are programmed starting at a young age to react to things in a certain way and this influences us later in life and why conform with the herd or society.

In the program Brain Games, they tested Conformity and whether or not humans have the same brain mentality like sheep, the results were very interesting and can be viewed in the youtube video.


During my research, I asked the BCM212 students to see whether or not this mentality is true across a student perspective. I was initially quite surprised with the engagement towards the topic, one person replied:

I think I could start running as well just out of natural instinct.

Josephine Doyle

Whether its FOMO or the herd-like mentality the pattern of human behvaiour is evident and the more you explore this the more you explore the ideology of why we do this, the more you realise we are programmed to conform in this way.

Here is a final video to leave you with:

Until Next time,


Bibliography:

Study.com. 2020. [online] Available at: <https://study.com/academy/lesson/social-conformity-definition-social-vs-informational.html> [Accessed 27 March 2020].

Verywell Mind. 2020. Asch’s Seminal Experiments Showed The Power Of Conformity. [online] Available at: <https://www.verywellmind.com/the-asch-conformity-experiments-2794996> [Accessed 28 March 2020].

Facebook Watch. 2020. Shoppers Panic-Buy Toilet Paper At Woolworths In Revesby. [online] Available at: <https://www.facebook.com/7NEWSsydney/videos/203257060783466/> [Accessed 23 March 2020].

National Geographic. 2020. Coronavirus Is Spreading Panic. Here’S The Science Behind Why.. [online] Available at: <https://www.nationalgeographic.com/history/reference/modern-history/why-we-evolved-to-feel-panic-anxiety/> [Accessed 28 March 2020].

A-Z Quotes. 2020. Solomon Asch Quote. [online] Available at:<https://www.azquotes.com/quote/762816> [Accessed 28 March 2020].

Psychology Today. 2020. The Science Behind Why People Follow The Crowd. [online] Available at: <https://www.psychologytoday.com/au/blog/after-service/201705/the-science-behind-why-people-follow-the-crowd> [Accessed 27 March 2020].

Youtube. 2020. Brain Games -Conformity Waiting Room. [online] Available at: <https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-7iN0V-GbM0> [Accessed 28 March 2020].

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