Whilst we all like to think that we are free thinking individuals, the truth is that social influence is a powerful force in nature and society. There are many advantages to us being social beings – learning from others, pooling our resources, increasing our defences – but research has shown that there are also disadvantages. We have evolved to become overly influenced by our neighbours rather than relying on our own instinct.
It has been shown that imitating the actions and opinions of others rather than trusting our own thoughts can lead to increased danger. In a study analysing the behaviour of 365 people at a busy crossing in Leeds, Faria et al (2010) revealed that people are twice as likely to cross a busy road if the person next to them sets off first – and that men are more likely to follow other pedestrians than women. Continue reading Embracing Non-Conformity: How To Make Effective Decisions