In Jonah Berger’s new book, Invisible Influence,
he says: “99.9% of all decisions are shaped by others. It’s hard to find a decision or behavior that isn’t affected by other people.”
Berger’s claim is we do not see how we are influenced by others. In multiple studies including Asch’s line length study in 1951, people choose the wrong answer because of groupthink, because everyone else did. I am interested in influence and the impact of social media on our choices. Multiple experiments say that the power of conforming is strong enough to select the wrong answer, “when the answer is clear, people still imitate others.” It is shocking but true that people will deny their reality to fit in with the group.
Berger’s questions include:
“When do we imitate others and when do we avoid what they are doing? When do peers motivate us to work harder and when do they drive us to give up? And what does all this mean for happiness, health, success, both at home and at work?”
What do we imitate? I agree with Berger people are overwhelmed for choice and “knowing others like something also encourages people to give it the benefit of the doubt. If that many people bought it, it must be good.” If someone famous is involved in a project, it often does better. If a television star is involved, we may be more likely to buy it or follow it or watch it.
“Even without us realizing it, other people are constantly influence what we think, buy and do. But does social influence go even further? Could it influence how hard we’re driven to achieve? Whether we’re motivated to work harder or give up and quit?”
I know I am motivated by other people’s success. When I can see that someone else has figured it out, I know it is possible. It might be a long shot but I can start to see the steps to make something happen. I believe as Berger states: “peers don’t just affect what we choose, they motivate us to action. Others make us bike faster, save more energy and turn losing into winning.”
I meet many people who want to work with me or be introduced to someone else. Recently, I was able to introduce a former student of mine from Nickelodeon to a Buzzfeed personality. They had both said, if they did not have their dream job, they would want the other person’s job. I knew that they had to meet!
Michelle Khare and Brec Bassinger are finding their way in television, video and the Wild Wild West of the Internet. After I introduced them, Khare created a project at Buzzfeed for Bassinger and the video has been wildly successful!
When we work together without conforming, magic can happen. I created my We Said Go Travel Writing Award after seeing the 30th International Sand Art Competition in Konark, India. I believe that the first time someone suggested the competition, everyone else said, “that will never work.” That is what most people told me about We Said Go Travel–it will never work. But 10 awards later, I have published 1700 writers from 75 countries.
I believe I am influenced by others and I want to make sure I imitate those who can lead me in the direction of my dreams. I even made my own video of our day at Buzzfeed. I wonder what will happen next?