Psychologists know you have to be careful when you go poking around the human mind because you're never sure what you'll find there. A number of psychological experiments over the years have yielded terrifying conclusions about the subjects.
Oh, we're not talking about the occasional psychopath who turns up. No, we're talking about you. The experiments speak for themselves:
5The Asch Conformity Experiment (1953)
Solomon Asch wanted to run a series of studies that would document the power of conformity, for the purpose of depressing everyone who would ever read the results.
Subjects were told that they would be taking part in a vision test, along with a handful of people. The participants were then shown pictures, and individually asked to answer very simple and obvious questions. The catch was that everybody else in the room other than the subject was in on it, and they were were told to give obviously wrong answers. So would the subject go against the crowd, even when the crowd was clearly wrong?
Questions the subjects were asked were like the puzzle shown here:
All they had to do was say which line on the right matched the one on the left. As you can see, Asch wasn't exactly asking these people to design the next space station. Really, the only way you could get the line questions honestly wrong is if you took two doses of LSD that morning and rubbed them directly on your eyeballs (which would have made for an even more awesome experiment, but we're getting off the point).
Yet, sadly, 32 percent of subjects would answer incorrectly if they saw that three others in the classroom gave the same wrong answer. Even when the line was plainly off by a few inches, it didn't matter. One in three would follow the group right off the proverbial cliff.
What This Says About You:
Imagine how much that 32 percent figure inflates when the answers are less black and white. We all tend to laugh with the group even when we didn't get the joke, or doubt our opinion we realize ours is unpopular among our group. So much for those lectures you got in elementary school about peer pressure and "being brave enough to be yourself."
"Well, it's a good thing I'm a rebellious non-conformist," many of you are saying. Of course, for virtually all of you, the next step is to find out what the other non-conformists are doing ...
... and make sure you conform to it perfectly.
"Wait, you're right! Surely we must rebel against this mindless herd mentality! Let's all take to the streets!"