Adonis Diaries

“Social Proof Bias”? How this bias is still valid for our survival?

Posted on: September 13, 2014

“Social Proof Bias”? How this bias still stand for our survival?

Even a couple centuries ago, it was a survival instinct to cling to the masses: this social instinct gave comfort of being safe from “attacking” enemy or climatic upheavals.

It was safety that made people conglomerate in communities, way before the added values in production and trading goods.

Following the crowd is becoming a dangerous reaction inheritance. What of frequent stampede accidents.

Except for famine plagued regions where it is of great importance to follow the fleeing hordes to UN camps?

Or when in a foreign city and have tickets for a stadium event.

Somerset Maugham wrote: “If 50 million people say something foolish, it is still foolish”

In capitalist systems and uncontrolled financial companies in the hands of the few 1% elite class, social proof bias is the evil behind bubbles and stock market panic.

Social proof bias exists in fashion, management techniques, hobbies, religion and diets, to mention a few fields.

It can paralyze entire cultures in times of upheaval and periods of uncertainty, (such as sects committing collective suicide, or extremist religious movements, Fukushima nuclear melt down…)

Peer pressure warps common sense, a reaction to a survival strategy.

Suppose the fire alarm goes off. How the crowd will exit? Would they select the exit closest to the alarm or the opposite exit?

Logically, the fire sensor detect the closest point of fire. And yet, people would rush toward the exit of the alarm.

This social proof bias was mentioned and explained in “The Art of thinking clear” by Rolf Dobelli

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adonis49

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