With the easing of COVID-19 restrictions, you may have noticed people acting like everything has gone back to normal even though the pandemic isn’t over. It seems like people aren’t social distancing anymore. We all know COVID-19 isn’t over, so why do we feel like it is?
One part of the answer to this could be that we are experiencing what psychologists refer to as ‘groupthink’ which is basically where we look at how others are behaving for clues on how we should behave. Research has shown that it’s pretty powerful stuff.
One famous series of studies in psychology known as the Asch conformity experiments, investigates how social pressure might affect a person to conform. The study found that about 75% of the time, people might give a wrong answer just because that is what everyone else in a group was saying.
If you’d like to know more about this experiment, it has been re-created here by ‘brain games’:
When things are unclear, we want to do the right thing, so we look at others for guidance. This might explain why so many people seem to be ignoring the rules about social distancing now. The more people that do it, the more it appears to be okay. Knowing about the power of groupthink can help us to understand other people’s behaviour, as well as what impact it might be having on us. Now that you know this, will it make you think twice about social distancing?
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