In the Netherlands there is the mantra 'Act normally, then you are crazy enough'. You can question this. Because: when are you normal? Let me start with what the word actually means. In the word comes the word norm for, which means something like standard or rule. So doing normally means complying with the applicable norm or standard. Behave by the rules. In contrast to the industry and technology, norms in daily life cannot be defined so clearly.
In everyday life, not the industry standard applies, but different ones norms and values. Values are ideals and motives that are seen by most people as important to pursue. Norms are then concrete guidelines for action. For example, road safety can be regarded as an important social value and an accompanying standard is to drive no faster than 50 kilometers per hour in built-up areas. Many people conform to this, even if they may only do so to avoid incurring a traffic fine.
Conformity is also a strong weapon of influence. This concept is introduced in the book 'Influence' by Cialdini. In order to better understand this concept, it is important to first know more about fixed behavioral patterns. Chapter 1 (pages 7 to 10) of this book describes the following:
Every person uses fixed behavioral patterns. A fundamental characteristic of these patterns is that the behaviors that make them up unfold in much the same way and in the same order each time. Behavioral patterns that arise on the basis of a certain stimulus, also called the key stimulus. Stereotypical ideas are an example of these kinds of behavioral patterns. A certain key stimulus comes in and a stereotypical idea automatically emerges. An automatic and stereotypical approach is in fact at the forefront of many human actions, because this is often the most efficient form of behavior. We live in an extremely complicated environment, currently we live in perhaps the most complex and fastest changing environment that has ever existed on this planet. To be able to handle that, we need shortened versions or short circuits. We cannot be expected to recognize and analyze all aspects of every person, event and situation that we encounter, even within a day. We lack the time, energy and capacity for this. Instead, very often we have to use our stereotyped ideas, our rules of thumb, to classify things according to some key characteristics, and then react without thinking when any of those characteristics turn out to be present.
Examples of stereotyped ideas are ideas about what typically female and male jobs are. Nurse and receptionist would be typical women's jobs and have less status.
Most people are hardly aware of these automatic behavioral patterns. While they are so very present and seem to become even more important in the future. These automatic behaviors often develop on the basis of psychological principles or stereotyped behaviors that we have learned. Some of these principles are very powerful. There are people who have an eye for these principles and know their power. They then apply these principles as a weapon to get what they want from others.
Social burden of proof
You could regard conformation as such a powerful influence weapon. In the book it is not called conforming, but social burden of proof. This principle is used on television. Sellers also apply this principle. A smart seller provides a good reference to a potential customer if he or she wants to sell a product. Also in the marketing this principle is used. Pop stars are therefore not used for nothing to promote products. This principle also works well for social media. The number of likes on Facebook is also based on this principle. The more likes, the better something is. It is also possible to receive likes to buy.
It is very useful to conform. A society cannot do without conformists and everyone has to conform to a greater or lesser extent to the prevailing general norms and values. At the same time, it is wise to be aware of the power of social proof. It is then wise to ask yourself whether the values and norms determined by others are really the norms and values that you want to conform to.
You can do this by being aware that it can be used fallacies like from one populist fallacy. This is a form of reasoning that appeals to the opinion of the majority. Or by using a authority which is called upon. You could argue that these kinds of arguments are used fairly often when applying the principle of social evidential value in marketing. Incidentally, appealing to an authority is also seen by Cialdini as a separate weapon of influence. This principle and its arguments are just as powerful.
Source: 'Influenceby Robert B. Cialdini.