The sheep - it will do what others do
In 1971, Dr. Philip Zimbardo conducted a psychological study called the Stanford Prison Experiment. Students were assigned roles as either prison guards or prisoners and put in a mock prison. The experiment only lasted six days, because participants so fully inhabited their pretend roles in the prison that the "guards" began abusing the "prisoners."
In 2007, Dr. Zimbardo wrote The Lucifer Effect: Understanding How Good People Turn Evil, where he explains more about how conformity can lead to evil. In his website related to the book, he says:
Whenever I enter an office-building elevator, I automatically turn and face front, do not make eye contact with other passengers, stop talking or speak only in hush tones to a companion. Are these my personal preferences or idiosyncrasies? Hardly, since most people in most elevators behave similarly. Those actions tell you little about me but a lot about the unspoken rules of public elevators. Why do we do it? Unlike signs forbidding us to smoke or advising us what to do in case of a fire, nothing in any elevator says we should act in these strange ways. Our behavior is under the control of unwritten social rules, implicit norms, which govern appropriate elevator demeanor.He then mentions a bit from a 1962 episode of the practical joke show Candid Camera, which illustrates conformity with a humorous prank.
Candid Camera - The power of conformity
- I found this via Open Culture, at the post "The Power of Conformity">>
- The Power of Norms and Groups on Individuals: Parallels Between the Stanford Prison Experiment and Milgram’s Obedience Research, The Lucifer Effect>>
- Stanford Prison Experiment>>