Viral marketing - 2

Viral marketing - week 2

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Viral Marketing and How to Craft Contagious Content

University of Pennsylvania

Jonah Berger

Lecture 09 - The Power Social Influence


Imagine you need a kidney transplant. You've just come down with end stage renal
disease and you need a kidney to survive. There's just not enough kidneys available,
so you're looking for a transplant. You've waited on the list for
months for an available kidney. And the way the kidney list works is
the people who've been on it the longest are at the top, and people who have just
gotten on the list are at the bottom. In some cases, there are hundreds,
maybe even thousands of people before you, on the list. Now finally, after months of waiting,
a kidney becomes available. Would you take it? Think about it for a moment. You've been waiting for a kidney. Would you take it? Now most of us would probably say yes,
of course, we'd take the kidney. We've been waiting forever. Why wouldn't we take it? We need that kidney to survive,
to be better off. But what if you found out that someone
else turned that kidney down first? If you're 101st on the list for example, that means a hundred other people turned
down that kidney before it got to you. Would you still take the kidney? Now, some people would
probably refuse the kidney for a bad fit, not everybody's kidney
will work in everybody else's body.
It's a little bit like trying
to put a BMW engine in a Toyota, it's not necessarily a good fit. But, other people may have turned it down
for different reasons, and there's a list, and they go down starting from the top,
and eventually it gets to you. Would you be equally
likely to turn it down or take it if you found out that
somebody else turned it down first? Well in general, 97% of offers for
kidneys are refused and again many of them because of a bad fit,
but actually researchers who've studied this found that one in ten people do so
in error. One out of ten people that turn down
a kidney should have accepted it, and part of the reason was because all those
other people turning down the kidney make you think twice. They make you say,
well if everyone else did it, everyone else turned it down,
maybe it's not as good as I thought. Maybe I shouldn't take it either. And what this points to is the importance
of social influence on our decisions. Other people's decisions affect our
decisions all the time from the products we buy, the health plans we choose,
and the grades we get in school. Whether or not we save for
retirement, whether we vote, or even the careers that we choose. Almost every decision we make on a daily
basis is effected in some way shape or form by others. So how do others influence us? And how,
by understanding how others influence us, can we make better choices in our
personal and professional lives? One major way social influence affects our
decisions is something called conformity or imitation. We're more likely to do something
if our friends, neighbors, or co-workers have done it recently. For example, we're more likely to buy
a new car if someone who lives near us has bought one recently. And people are more likely to commit
a crime if others they know have done so. You might think about this idea as,
monkey see, monkey do. If other people are doing something,
we're more likely to do it as well, and conformity happens for two key reasons. The first very simply is information. We look to others to figure out what the
right thing is to do in a given situation. Imagine you're traveling, you're on
vacation, or you're traveling for work, and you're in a new city that
you've never been to before. It's late, it's time to find
a place to go for dinner.

How are you gonna decide where to eat? Well most of us use a time tested rule. We walk down the street and
we look for a place that's full. And we say well if it's full,
it must be pretty good. If it's empty,
it's probably not pretty good.

We use others as a signal of
information for what we should do. If you live in a big apartment
building and you're wondering, should I wear a jacket today or
carry an umbrella? What do most of us do? We look out the window to see
what other people are doing. If other people are carrying an umbrella,
maybe we should carry one as well. If other people are wearing a jacket,
maybe we should do the same. And so this idea of looking to others for information is a common
thing we do all the time. Same with the kidneys, right? When we were deciding whether or not to
take that kidney, we looked to others, and we said well if others are turning
it down maybe we should as well. This leads to ideas of
information cascades. Where information cascades from
one person to the next, and so on. It even affects things
like the stock market. If one person starts selling, other people might assume maybe I should
be selling as well, and do the same thing. Really nice piece of research also
showed it affects housing sales. Many houses have a number of days on
the market that appear on the listing. You can see the house has been on the
market for 10 days or 20 days or 100 days. And what they found is that the longer
the house has been on the market, the more likely it is people will
leave it to stay on the market. They make an inference if
it's been on the market for 100 days,
if everyone else has looked at it and turned it down, it's probably not so
good, maybe I should turn it down as well. Looking at others for
information is a key thing we do often. One reason we look to others is
that it's a shortcut to judgment. It saves us time and effort to look to
others in what they have done previously. Imagine before picking a restaurant
you had to sample each place on a given block before doing it. It would take a lot of time. In fact, it would take so much time we'd never end up
actually getting to eat dinner. And so it's much faster to use online
reviews or other's information. It's much faster to see if
that restaurants full and use that as signal about
what we should do. And this inference is much stronger when
people have less time or motivation. If we don't have a lot of time to make
the decision and we're not very motivated, we're much more likely to turn to
other's to help us make that decision. In fact, here is a great example of
people looking to others to figure out what they should do.

>> Would the sight of just one
person be enough to get you to join? What do you think other people will do? Will anyone actually get in line? >> What's going on? >> You know,
I was just told to come in line. So, I'm not sure yeah. >> Okay, cool. >> Oh, no she didn't take the bait. As the minutes tick by,
people are curious but cautious. It looks like no one is
going to join the line. >> Hey, what's up man? >> How about these two? >> I don't know what it's for,
I think it could be something good. >> The line starts here? >> Yeah, I just saw a sign. Yeah come on.
You'll be the 2nd, 3rd people. Get in line. >> Will they join the line even
though they have no idea what they'd be waiting for? They're in. We've got them. And now that these two have joined
the line, the flood gates are open. People just can't resist joining in. >> What is it? >> Looks like it could be something fun. >> Is it free?
>> Yeah it's free. >> Okay. [LAUGH] >> The longer the line
got the more others wanted to join. >> Remember these people have no
idea what they're waiting for. >> What's this line for? >> I think it's an event or something. >> All it took was one person. Now we've got a crowd of random strangers. >> This phenomenon is known as
informational social influence and it occurs when you rely on others
to determine your course of action. You're much more likely to use social
influence when the situation is ambiguous such as in a crisis, or
when you're uncertain about what to do. >> And as you can see even without
a clear reason for waiting. >> There's no description, no nothing. >> our line grew, and grew, and grew. Time to get this show on the road. >> Start. >> Where to exactly? >> Oh we moving. >> Oh.
>> Woo. >> Now that the line is moving,
we wanted to see if people would follow along even though
they had no idea where they were going. We're going to test the science
of follow the leader with three unexpected obstacles. First, a dizzy maze. >> Where are we going? >> Yeah, come on! >> And even though the path makes no
sense, no one is getting out of the line. Do you think these people will
realize they are going nowhere fast? Looks like they are in it for good. >> Pretty amazing right? And it's easy to sit there and
go, well I would never do that. Look at these weird and
unusual people in Las Vegas, they would stand in line because someone
else was in line, but I wouldn't do that. Yet we unconsciously do that all the time. We're looking to others to help
us figure out what to do and we use them as a signal of information
to make our decisions easier. >> And many companies and
organizations take advantage of this. If you've ever bought a product or seen an
ad where they say we're the best selling, we're number one, they do that for
a particular reason. They're trying to show you that lots of
other people have bought that product and because they've bought it, encourage
you to think it's probably pretty good.

Lecture 10 - Normative Influence


We follow others because they provide
information, but we also do for a second reason and that is something
called normative influence. And the idea behind normative
influence is we don't just look for information, we care about fitting in. We care about achieving awards and
avoiding being ostracized. Imagine I asked you to help
me with an experiment. It's gonna be really simple. It's just a simple vision
task to look at perception. I'm gonna show you three lines,
A, B, and C. One's short, one's middle and one's long. And I'm gonna show you a fourth line and ask you which of the three first
lines it's most similar to. Is it most similar to the small one,
the middle one or the long one? Seems like a pretty easy task,
shouldn't have any problem in doing it. Easy to match up the length of lines. But imagine for
a moment other people did it before you. Imagine you come to a room and
seven other people, that look sort of like you
are sitting around a table. They're similar in age, they are dressed similarly, they have
a similar demographic background.
Everyone introduces themselves and the study begins. You are doing the same line length
task I told you about a second ago. But some people are gonna give
their answers before you. So the first person
will give their answer, the second person will give theirs, the third and so on.
And you happen to be sitting
at the end of the table so eventually it will get around to you. Well the first person says the answer is b.
Now that's sort of surprising cuz
you thought the answer was a but the first person says b. Okay maybe they just missed it. But then the second person says B,
and then the third person says B, and everybody says B, and then it gets to you. Now in your heart of hearts,
you thought the answer was A. You're looking at those lines, and they match up exactly to
have A be the right line. Yet everyone else said B. Would you still say A? Would you go against the group and
say something different, or would you go along with the group? Most people actually in a study like
this they went along with the group. They said well my eyes say one thing,
but the group says something else. Maybe I am wrong, and it was not
because the group provided information. Our eyes provide more than
enough information in this task. We see what we see, but we do not only
care about what is the right answer. We care about fitting into that group. Think about going out to dinner,
for example. Going out to dinner with
a group of friends. You might have your eyes set on dessert. You're really excited
about ordering dessert. You have one or
two you're picking between. But, then, if it goes around the table and no one else orders dessert,
you feel bad about ordering dessert. You want dessert. You'd like to pick dessert. You have your eyes set on
the double chocolate cake, but you're not going to order
it because no one else did. They didn't provide you any information. You just wanted to fit into that group. You didn't wanna be ostracized and you didn't want people to
think you're weird or unusual. Same with the line lengths. People usualy went along with the group because
they didn't want people to think they're weird or crazy. So what do you think? Is this a surprising idea or not? Well on the one hand you could say,
not really. I mean we know people conform. We know that people do what
others do all the time. Yet, at the same time, it's pretty amazing to see that, even
when people have the right information, even when their eyes are telling them the
correct answer, they still rely on others. Even when the answer's obvious,
we still care about what others think, and so we might go along with the group. So one important question's, then,
well, when do people conform and when are they less likely to conform? If we want to stop people from going
along with others, what can we do? One factor that matters a lot is
the number and the consistency of others. Not surprisingly, the more people
there are saying the same thing, the harder it is to go your own way. If everybody is saying B and
you're saying A, the more people doing it, it makes it more difficult for
you to go against the group. But the consistency of
the group matters as well. What if someone else said
the same answer as you? Would that make you feel more comfortable
with giving your own opinion It probably would, right. Now you're not alone in the room. Now you have an ally. Someone else who sees things
the same way you do and so it makes you much more comfortable
in sharing your own opinion. Interestingly though, that person doesn't
necessarily have to be an ally, they just have to be someone that's not saying
the same thing as the rest of the group. If everybody's saying one thing,
even having someone who's saying something else, anything else, even if it's
not saying the thing that you think will make you more comfortable
in sharing your own opinion. Because having just one other person
that's not saying that same thing as the group creates some sense of doubt. It turns something from being a right
answer to a matter of opinion. And because of that, people are much more
comfortable in sharing their own opinion. This idea of conformity has
some important implications for how we structure our lives. Think for example about the ubiquitous
meetings we often have at work. A whole bunch of people come into a room,
they share their opinions and at the end, we make a decision. Well it turns out, not surprisingly
based on what we've talked about, that the first person who shares something
in that meeting has a big influence on what the rest of the people end up saying. If there is one way to go or another way
to go and the first person says one way, the people after that person
will tend to follow along. Jump on the band wagon if you will. And the group may end up going one way. Where if someone could have
said something different, they might have gone a completely
different direction. There's a famous idea of
the wisdom of crowds. The notion that a crowd is wiser
than any individual might be alone. But the crowd is only wise if
each person shares their opinion. If each individual contributes
the unique information they have. If everyone just agrees with
everybody else the crowd is not going to be wiser than any
one individual could be. And when groups get
together to make decisions, we often see something called group think. A bunch of people make a decision
that's even worse than they might have made individually because
they end up gloaming on. So, how can we prevent group think? How can we make our meetings more
effective and get to a better outcome. We want to make sure that all
the diverse viewpoints are heard, that people don't just
go along with the crowd. One easy way to do that is to make
opinions private, or make voting private. For example, at the beginning of the
meeting ask everybody to write down their vote or write down their opinion,
and then submit it anonymously. Doing that first will encourage people to
stick with their opinion, will solicit those diverse views, and make sure we
get to a better outcome as a result.

Practice Quiz 2


Lecture 11 - Using Social Influence to Increase Success

The idea that we follow others has
some interesting implications. There's a famous campaign in
the United States, an anti-drug campaign, called the Just Say No campaign. It was started in the early 1980s by Nancy
Reagan, and the idea was very simple. Drug rates are increasing,
particularly among kids, so public service announcements came out
talking about the dangers of drugs, and trying to encourage people not to do them. Now this seems like a pretty simple idea,
right? We wanna encourage kids not to do drugs,
so the ads had a variety of real life situations
where kids might be asked to do drugs. A neighbor for example might say,
hey, do you wanna do drugs? Or, hey,
the kids at school are doing drugs. Do you wanna try them? And the idea was by learning to say no,
by seeing other kids say no, people would be more likely
to say no themselves. More recently,
some researchers analyze some data. Not of just, of the just say no campaign,
but a more recent campaign against drugs. And they looked at whether
this campaign was effective. Did children who saw the anti-drug ads,
were they less likely to take drugs? You might expect the answer would be yes. That showing kids anti-drug ads,
telling them just to say no, would decrease drug use. Unfortunately that didn't happen. It didn't lead to decreased drug use. In fact, it didn't even lead
to no change in drug use. It actually had a perverse effect. Kids that saw more anti-drug ads were
later more likely to report using drugs. Now this might come as a big surprise. The ads were particularly designed
to get people not to use drugs. So why did it actually
have a perverse effect? Well, think about it for a moment. You're a kid, you're sitting at home, you've never
thought about trying drugs before. And then an ad comes on television and says, hey little boy or girl,
there is something called drugs. Well, if you've never
heard of drugs before, the ad just told you that they exist. And then the ad proceeds to
show other people using drugs. They say, hey,
the kids at school are using drugs or the cool kids are using drugs,
but you shouldn't. And you're sitting there, going, well, if the cool kids are using them,
maybe I should check them out as well. While telling people not to use drugs, the ads were simultaneously saying,
other people are doing it. And whenever we tell people that
other people are doing something, they're gonna be more
likely to do it themselves.

There's another great experiment that shows this really clearly. Some researchers are interested
in getting people not to take souvenirs from a petrified forest. There's a famous national
forest in the United States and people often take petrified wood
as a souvenir on their way out. But if everybody takes
a piece of petrified wood, there's no petrified wood left for
anybody else. So how could they get people to
stop taking those souvenirs. Well one campaign said many park visitors
have removed petrified wood from the Park, changing the natural state of the forest. Now you might think that
campaign would be effective. It said, hey lots of people
are doing it and it's a bad thing. It's changing the state of the forest. Was it effective? Well, when researchers looked at the data,
they found that no message, no message at all,
about 3% of people took petrified wood. But the message about removing the wood, tripled the number of people
that took a piece of wood home. Why? Because the message, while simultaneously
saying don't take the wood, again said lots of other
people were doing it. And so a message that was much more
effective said something like, please don't remove wood from the forest, in order to preserve the natural
state of the forest. If we want people not to do something, don't tell them that other
people are doing something. The more we tell people that
other people are doing something, even if we don't want them to do it,
the more likely they'll be to do it. On the other hand, when we wanna
convince people to do something, we wanna point out how many
other people are doing it. In Britain, for example,
they wanted to raise more tax dollars. Not enough Brits were
paying their taxes on time. Most were, but not all were. So they added one line to a letter
they sent to people's homes that increased the tax revenues by a huge
number, by tens of millions of dollars. The only line they added to that
letter was nine out of ten people of your peers pay their taxes on time. And by merely letting people know
that other people are doing it, it increased the chance that
they would do it themselves. We've talked about how conformity shapes
the individual decisions we make, but they also have some interesting
implications for why some products and ideas become popular. Think about something that's recently
become popular, maybe a famous book or movie or music star.

Take JK Rowling, the author of Harry Potter. That book has sold tens of millions, if not hundreds of millions at this point,
of copies. All around the world, people love the book, and
it's one of the biggest hits of all time. Well, think about why it succeeded. Was it because that book was
just better than others? And indeed,
when we see a big hit like a Harry Potter, we think that it must
just have higher quality. That it won out among all the other
books because it's just a better book. But interestingly, when we look
at the story behind Harry Potter, we see something quite different. JK Rowling, the author, actually shot that manuscript to a number
of publishers who turned it down. Many said it wasn't very good, it had a
niche audience, it needed to be rewritten. She had to shop it to dozens of publishers
so someone finally picked it up and made her a multimillionaire
in the process. So if certain things are better than
others, why don't experts realize it? Maybe we wouldn't. Maybe I'm not an expert editor, an expert
and knower of which books are better and which are worse, but someone whose job is
to pick good books should be able to tell. So why did lots of publishers
turn JK Rawlings down? Well it turns out there's something
more interesting at work. Success is often unpredictable,
not just because its based on quality, but because success is based
a lot on social influence. Imagine you came to a website that had
a bunch of different music artists, and they had different songs
that you could download. There's a long list of artists
with different songs, and you could pick whichever one you like. There are songs you've never heard of,
bands you've never heard the names of, but you listen to a couple and at the end
you end up downloading a certain song. Well, researchers ran
a study just like this one. People could listen to whatever music
they'd like and download certain songs. But in addition to
the version I just told you, they also ran the world that included social influence. In addition to the name of the song and
the name of the artist, next to it was the number of other people
that had downloaded that song previously. Just like the number of views that
might appear on a clip on You Tube or the number of sales that might appear
next to a book on a best seller list. And what they looked at is how just
that number of what other people had done previously,
changed what people listened to. And they found, not surprisingly, that people tend to listen to
songs that were already popular. People tended to follow what
others had done previously. The songs in that social influence world,
the hits became more popular, and the failures became much less popular. As we've talked about,
people tend to follow others. But there was one more
interesting hitch to this story. They didn't just run one social
influence world, they ran multiple. Multiple cases where a bunch of
individuals were assigned to one situation where they listened to songs. And what they found is in those different,
separate worlds, those different groups of people,
completely different songs became popular. If it was just about quality, the same song should have
been popular in each world. Yet in one world, a certain song might have been the best
hit and in another it was close to last. So why did that happen? Well it turned out social influence not
only drove success some things to succeed and others to fail, but
it also drove some of the randomness. People tended to follow others, so whoever had listened to the song first
had a big impact on what others did. Just like that person who might have
been first to speak in a meeting, people tended to follow
the others that came before them. They tended to listen to the same songs,
to download the same songs, and increase the hit count even further. That's why best seller lists
have such a big impact. We tend to look to those lists to figure
out what we should read or watch, but that in turn leads those songs or
movies to stay on the lists and then that affects the next people as well. What this study shows is that
social influence does two things. First it increases inequality. It makes popular things even more popular
and unpopular things even less popular. But importantly,
it also makes success unpredictable. The winner in one version was
almost completely different than the winner in others. Just like that first
person in the meeting, has a big impact on what the rest of the
group does, the first person who listened to a song had a big impact on
the people that followed them. And so this idea of herd or bandwagon effects can have a big
impact on what catches on. If we're designing a recommender system,
or thinking about how to provide
information to others, we need to be really careful
about that social information. In some cases, we want to do what
I'll call making the private public. We wanna make it more observable
what others are doing. The easier it is for
us to see what others are doing, the more likely it will be to imitate it. But in other cases we wanna
make others' behavior private. If we don't want people to imitate others, we wanna make others'
behavior harder to see.

2 - 4

Lecture 12 - When Social Influence is Anti-Social

We've talked about how social influence
leads people to do the same as others, to imitate those around them. But does it always lead people to conform, or does social influence sometimes
lead us to do something different?
A number of years ago, Unilever released a new deodorant brand called Axe. They did a lot of market research and
they segmented men. And they found that there was a certain
group of men that the brand should particularly appeal to. They describe them as insecure novices,
people that lack self-esteem and experience and could be easily persuaded that Axe would
be key to their success with women. They were looking at young guys, 13 and 14
years old and they found that these young guys would really use deodorant
to ramp up their self confidence. They came out with a series of 30 second
commercials that played on exactly this idea, how using the brand Axe would make
these teenagers irresistible to women. Now, the ads were pretty effective. Axe became an instant hit and soon became the number one male brand deodorant in the category.
This early success though, soon began to backfire. The ads actually worked too well,
because what they did is lead geeks and dorks everywhere to buy
Axe by the caseload. Lots of geeks were saying,
I wanna be irresistible to women and that was hurting the brand's image. Because if only geeks
were using the brand, lots of other people said
well maybe it's not for me. And the important point here is that
social influence is really just like a magnet. It can attract or lead people to do the
same as others, but it can also repel or lead people to avoid
what others are doing.

So let's spend a couple minutes talking about when social influence might lead people to do the opposite of their peers. Imagine, for example,
you met someone at a party and they tell you that they drive a BMW. What might you think about them? What inferences might you make about
who they are, what they like, and what they enjoy doing in their spare time? You might think they listen
to a certain type of music or potentially drink wine rather than beer. Now imagine for a moment I told you that,
that person drives a Toyota. Would you make the same
inferences about them or might you make different
inferences about who they are? We do this all the time. Whether at a party or at work when we
meet a new person for the first time, or even talking to someone we've met before,
we make inferences about who they are based on how they're dressed and what they do.

If someone told you they're a lawyer, for example, versus an art historian you'd make different inferences about what
they might do with their spare time. And so importantly, consumption, the
things we buy and what we do has meaning. What we buy, say, and do can act as
a signal of our identity to others. It can communicate unobservable
things to us about others around us. Someone drives a BMW, might assume
that they're wealthy, or showy, or drink wine again, rather than beer. They drive a Toyota, maybe they're a little bit more
functional, a little bit more utilitarian. Maybe they care a little bit more
potentially about their family. And so importantly, we buy products not
just for what they do or their functional benefit, but also what they mean, what
they symbolize or communicate about us. So one question is, well, where do
products or ideas get that identity from? Where does meaning come
from in the first place? One way consumption gains meaning
is through brand positioning, what the brand puts out
there on the world. Whether it's an ad or
the store experience. Take Abercrombie and Fitch, for
example, they use lots of black and white photos with attractive young men and women seeming like they're having a huge
amount of fun wearing the clothes. Or you walk into the store,
and it has a certain smell and feel to it that associates
the brand with particular things. The brand has spent a lot of time and money associating them with
a particular identity. BMW's done the same, their ads show
attractive people driving fast cars around beautiful scenery, encouraging a certain
image to be associated with the brand. But importantly the brand doesn't totally
control what it means to use that product. Take for example the Honda Element. Honda built this car to appeal
to people in their mid-20s. They built ads that showed people
using the car, surfing and skiing and snowboarding. And they played fun
music in the background, showing young people having
a great time using the brand. All of this was to get that
target market to buy the car. But that isn't exactly what happened. Because just like Axe meant to
appeal to a certain segment but attracted another one,
the Honda element did the same. Senior citizens ending up loving the car
because it had lots of headroom and was easy to get into. And as a result, younger people became
less interested in buying the brand. Because if lots of seniors are using it,
they didn't wanna use it as well. And so the signal values depends a lot
not only what the brand says, but who else is using it. If people wanna convey a certain meaning, they may adopt things that
signal that meaning to others.
We all wanna seem wealthier, smarter, and fitter than we actually are, so we may buy products or use brands that
communicate those desired identities. But importantly, adoption by outsiders can
change the meaning of a particular brand. Burberry, for example, is a very high-end brand
associated with lots of wealthy Brits. But lots of soccer hooligans in Britain
were also buying knockoff Burberry to show themselves to seem wealthy to others. And so as a result,
it shifted the meaning of consumption. It changed what the brand
meant from a signal of wealth to a set of wannabes who
wanted to seem wealthy. And a result, lots of true wealthy
people ended up abandoning the brand and moving to something else. But it's not just Burberry,
people diverge all the time.

The jocks don't want to look like the geeks. Kids don't want to look like their parents.
And Republicans don't want to look like Democrats and vice versa. Often, groups will avoid what
other people are doing to avoid sending undesired signals. Teenagers don't want to look
like they're like their parents. The jocks don't want to
look like they're geeks. And Republicans don't wanna adopt the same
policy if it's associated with Democrats. So they avoid what the others are doing to
avoid sending undesired identity signals.

2 - 5

Lecture 13 - Conformity or Divergence?

We've been talking about the fact
that people diverge from others. They avoid what other groups are doing if
they don't wanna look like those folks. But one important questions well,
when this is happens? Because we also just
talked about conformity. The idea that people do
the same thing as others. So, when the people do
the same thing as others, and when do they end up wanting
to something different. When do we conform versus
when do we diverge. Well, it turns out it depends
a lot on the product category or domain, and
what that domain might say about us. Imagine I asked you to make a choice. Imagine I gave you three music artists,
for example, and I asked you to pick one, which one you like the best,
Dave Mathews Band, Lady Gaga or Drake. As you think about which one you like the
best, and think about that in your mind. Now, if I asked you to think about well
which of these three bike lights do you like better, Brand A, Brand B, or Brand C? Think about which one you'd prefer there. Now, you've got a pretty good idea of
this experiment that I asked a number of people to do. I brought a couple hundred people into
the laboratory, and I asked them to do a simple study where they made choices
in a number of different domains. They wrote down their preferences in an
Excel spreadsheet one domain by another. They wrote down their subject number,
their year in school, and then, which car brand they preferred,
which music artist they preferred, and which bike light they prefer. But interestingly there was one small
difference for some of the subjects. Some of the subjects sat down, and they entered their information in the
computer, and other subjects sat down, and it looked like someone else had already
entered some information on the computer. A prior subject had left their
prior responses on the screen. It said that person had
a certain identity, and it made a number of different choices. And we picked that identity in particular
because we knew that some of the people would want to avoid
looking like that group. We did this study at Stanford University,
and it turns out a lot of Stanford undergraduates don't wanna
look like graduate students. Graduate students are seen
as sort of geeky, sort of dorky,
they go to undergrad parties, and so undergrad students don't wanna look
like those graduate students around them. So, we wondered what would happen when
we told those undergraduates the grad students had made particular choices,
would they pick the same that the graduate students chose, or would they decide
to choose something different instead. What we found was quite interesting. For things like bike lights, people
tended to do the same thing as others. But for things like music, people tended
to avoid what that group had chosen. So, what's the important difference? Well, certain products
are more functional, whereas others are more symbolic. Certain things like the bike light we use,
the backpack we carry or what type of pen we use is mainly for
its functional benefit. We do those things for the functional benefits they provide but
other things are more symbolic. Things like music, cars, and clothes are domains people tend
to make inferences about others. They're much more symbolic for
communicating of identity. And so, what does that mean? Well, in these more functional means
people do the same thing as anyone. The fact that someone else said
they liked to given back light or liked to given pad of paper, suggests it's
pretty good, and we should do the same. It provides that information
we talked about previously.
But in these more symbolic domains, we're
gonna care a lot about who is doing it. Not just the fact that others like it,
but who those others are. If they're like us, or they're part of a group we want to
look like, we're happy to do it. If the cool kids are doing it,
we're gonna do the same thing. If organizations that
are high status are doing it, our organization might do the same thing. But if other organizations. We don't want to be
associated with her doing it. Or other people, we don't want to look like her doing it.
We're gonna avoid doing it.
It's not just the functional value of that product or service. It's what it communicates out about us to do the same thing.

Theories and Practice of Social Persuasion Quiz - 2

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