Elevator Experiment – Social Proof in Action

Posted August 22nd, 2011

Here’s a really interesting social experiment that was carried out by the people at Candid Camera. It provides a perfect example of social proof, which can be useful knowledge to have when you want to influence others.

What you will see here is that people are influenced by the behaviour of the other people in the elevator, after all, they can’t all be wrong can they?

The principle of social proof states that one important method people use to decide what to believe or how to act in a situation is to look at what other people are believing or doing.
Our need to revert to this behaviour usually happens in two instances. These are:
  • Similarity – people are more likely to follow the lead of others that are similar
  • Uncertainty – when people are unsure and the situation is ambiguous they are more likely to follow actions of others to determine what is correct

Social proof is inherent in many aspects of our life and is certainly growing with the advent of the internet and other technical advances. The use of reviews by many websites, including Amazon is an example of social proof in action. More recently, Blogs have become a method of creating a following of like-minded people.

Social proof can be an extremely powerful tool in the marketing of a company’s products and services. After all, if your current customers (who happen to be a lot like me) are so happy with your products, then surely I will be too?

This youtube clip is really helpful in demonstrating how individual’s can be influenced by others and the need to pay close attention to the theory of social proof. This is covered in more depth in the Trainer Bubble training course materials, ‘The Power of Influence’, which is available for purchase from the Trainer Bubble website. You should buy these, everyone else is!


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