Social proof is the currency of our everyday social interactions. It’s the reason we crave that suit Ryan Gosling was wearing and the reason we go to the restaurants with the best reviews.
For those dudes who don’t mind a bit of light reading, you may have heard of social proof in “The Game” by Neill Strauss, but if you want to learn a lot more about social proof, I recommend “Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion” by Robert Cialdini, there’s a whole section dedicated to it.
Social proof makes use of our instinct to find safety in numbers. If heaps of people are doing it, it must be good. (Except drugs. Drugs are bad kids)
Picture this, you’re overseas on a holiday and loving life. But if you don’t eat soon, World War Z is going to break out. You have two choices, the crowded dump or the fancy shmancy joint with nobody in it. Where do you eat? Don’t think too hard, social proof is kicking in. A busy restaurant means it’s popular, which means it must have good food…..or an attractive waitress. An empty place means they might as well be serving dog food.
Now I know what you’re thinking, “but JC, I’m an independent woman and I don’t need no man, I do what I want”. Well Timmy, you’ve got a point there. Social proof is constantly doing it’s thing, but we are more likely to be influenced by it when we are uncertain or when the people we are seeing seem similar to us. When we feel comfortable, social proof can sometimes take a back seat.
While theory is great, practice is where social proof gets fun. When applying for jobs, using references from well respected companies or higher positions usually carries more weight then using Eunice, the check out girl at the local Macca’s.
When you’re out at a nightclub and decided its time to buddy up with a female companion, having other lady friends around demonstrates pre-selection to the potential suitors, which heightens your social proof.