I’ll Give An Answer that Conforms With Others
Ever go to a conference where the speaker – in order to generate engagement – asks for a show of hands from the audience regarding some question? Watch how people act. Some will be hesitant to put up their hands unless others have. Only then will they raise their hands.
That’s a conformity bias.
The photo at the top of this article is from 12 Angry Men, a classic 1957 movie that should be on everyone’s movie bucket list. (The cast is incredible.) The plot: a young man is tried for murdering his father. It seems like an open-and-shut case. So, the foreman takes an initial open ballot of the 12 jurors hoping to wrap this up fast.
“All those voting guilty, please raise their hands.” Several hands go right up, but a few hesitate, going up one by one only when they see everyone is voting guilty.
That’s conformity bias.
Well, not everyone voted guilty or it would have been a very short movie. Juror #8, played by Henry Fonda, votes not guilty. The movie revolves around Fonda getting his fellow jurors to critically review the evidence, which the defendant’s lawyer failed to do. One by one he convinces his colleagues there’s reasonable doubt and a strong likelihood of outright innocence.
If you’re a student of decision making and how to influence others, watch the movie.
But I digress.