How Our Minds May be Wired to Follow the Crowd

Landau, Elizabeth (Janurary 15, 2009). “Why So Many Minds Think Alike” CNN. Retrieved November 8, 2015.

This article talks about theories and studies that show our brains are tricked into following what the majority of people are thinking, by looking at brain images. Whenever someone chose an answer that was different from what the majority chose, the “oops” area in their brain became active, thinking they made a mistake and changed their answer towards what the average answer was. An example of this is a study in which women were asked to rate the beauty of 222 faces on a scale of 1 through 8. When they went to discuss their ratings were compared to the average, those who were off from the average decided to change their answers to fit in more. There was also another study in which a group people were asked to identify three-dimensional shapes. There were actually actors among the groups that were there to see if they could pus the people to agree into seeing what they claimed to see. Not only did their “oops” area get stimulated but also their visual area, showing that their perceptions about what they saw were changed to fit into the group. The brain images helped see how people’s brains really may doubt themselves and change what they think they believe to match what the majority believes because of fear of being wrong. The article also explains why unanimous decisions are often more beneficial being the one who breaks off from the crowd could make a positive impact, that probably would not be made if the decision was not unanimous from fear of being frowned upon.

I chose to write my discussion on the topic of conformity. As I was looking for a relatable source on this topic for the discussion I ran into this article and the title caught my attention right away. I was not sure if it would fit the discourse theme but I was really interested in what it had to say. After reading the very first sentences I thought it would be perfect to share because it ties into the theme of conformity. It started off with, “You are in a room with 10 other people who seem to agree on something, but you hold the opposite view. Do you say something? Or do you just go along with the others?” (Landau, Elizabeth). I thought this was a very interesting way to start the article on the studies of how our minds must decide if we are right about our opinions or if we are wrong because the majority does not agree with us. It is a question that I believe probably applies to our every day lives. It may be asked towards the simplest problem, such as whether or not to agree on going out some where with friends even though you really do not want to, or if you are for or against going to war with another country.

I was really entertained by this article. It was really interesting to me because it expands on the theory of how people’s natural instincts are to follow the crowd, by backing up the argument with studies of brain images that show brains going into stress mode when their answers are different from others’. I only wish they article would have showed examples of the brain images. I was left wondering what situations caused the most stress on the brain. Also, the ratio of people who changed their answers against those who kept their answer even if they were wrong.

3 thoughts on “How Our Minds May be Wired to Follow the Crowd

  1. michellecha says:

    This was an interesting article! I’m in psychology class and we had a similar discussion about this. Our teacher talked about a social experiment psychologists decided to try out and see if peer pressure and the fear as being seen as an outcast is an issue. Psychologist chose a whole classroom and told every student, except for one, to act nonchalant when smoke starts coming from underneath the door. They wanted to observe the student’s reaction, who was not aware of the experiment. He finally arrives and then as the smoke starts coming out he seems frightened. But, as he looks around he sees no one is paying attention to it and his expression slowly turns into confusion. As he see no one is making a big deal out of the smoke, he decides to remain silent and pay attention to class just as the rest.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. mayraesc says:

    Wow, that is interesting! Thanks for sharing your discussion also 🙂 do you know if there is a video on this experiment? I would love to see the student’s reaction when he started freaking out and then turned confused! I would have probably thought I was going crazy if no one else was acknowledging the fact that there was smoke coming into the room. This also reminds me of the show Jimmy Kimmel and his “Lie Witness News” segments, where city people get asked about fake events and even though they have no idea what they are about they go along with them and make their own fake impressions! It is like they are afraid to not know about these big events on national tv so they pretend to know what happened. It’s hilarious, you should watch it if you haven’t!


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