As researchers we are always interested in understanding reasons, what makes the Facebook and other social networks tick. As I mentioned about ‘Breaking the equilibrium‘ in my first post. Another important aspect I would like to bring forward is the phenomenon of ‘social proof‘. If breaking the equilibrium is the necessity of social design than ‘social proof‘ is the one good means to achieve it.
Wikipedia defines social proof as ” Social proof, also known as informational social influence, is a psychological phenomenon where people assume the actions of others in an attempt to reflect correct behavior for a given situation. This effect is prominent in ambiguous social situations where people are unable to determine the appropriate mode of behavior, and is driven by the assumption that surrounding people possess more knowledge about the situation.”
In his book Influence: The psychology of persuasion, Robert Cialdini writes that social proof is one of the 6 ways to influence and very powerful at it. He quotes numerous examples on how it acts on our mind.
What Facebook newsfeed does to you essentially is present a social proof that entire network is sharing so you also please share! To my mind newsfeed is the biggest invention Facebook has made in successfully influencing people to share more and more stuff online.
What is your favorite example of social proof. That you see around you. To me what amazes me everyday is the delhi metro exit gates. People always queue up in the gate which already have people and not the one which is empty. I have to resist the same temptation. That is why I feel a slave to it everyday 🙂