Social Capital at Harvard (and social proof)

It’s kind of cool, this whole interweb thing. Particularly, when you Google yourself, and find an article about an article that you wrote. But it also highlights the way we currently gather information. For example, it would be rare that you would read a book, then open up another book within the book, to find out more information about something that interested you, the way that we use the internet. It really has changed the way we think, and research, and reminds us how incredibly malleable our mind is, and the fact that there is no single best way to find something out.

The Social Capital blog is certainly one worth referring back to, from time to time. Their recent article about the Kitty Genovese incident from highlights one of the key concepts in social psychology – social proof. Basically, what this means is that we look to others to help us out to work out what is an appropriate response in social situations. In the case of Kitty Genovese, there was a tragic outcome, but what it did, and the fact that we still refer to it now, was to help us overcome, or perhaps, control an element of our psychology that usually helps us out in the social world. All of us, examine the social world to see how we should behave, and at times we rely too much on others to determine how we think we should behave.

This is what marketers do as well. They exploit our need for social proof in many situations, and use people like us to help us to work out how we might behave. Put a person, not too dissimilar from the target market in a tricky situation, then show them getting out of it using a particular brand or product, and, “click-whirr”, we [implicitly] learn that this is the way we should behave in a similar situation.

This entry was posted in Branding, Consumer Behavior, Social Psychology and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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