Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Ideas to Ponder: Why We Seek Social Proof?

It is first of the many posts that I am going to write in "Idea to Ponder series" (you can visit all of them here). 

Why we Seek Social Proof? 

Wiki defines social proof as: "Social proof, also known as informational social influence, is a psychological phenomenon that occurs in ambiguous social situations when people are unable to determine the appropriate mode of behavior."

But the deep down desire in all of us is to be safe. We feel safe to be the part of a larger group which have behaved same or will behave same as us! Not getting? Let me explain with few very powerful examples that we all experience in our day to day life every single second! And how smart companies like, Google,...and almost every single online company in this world has been utilizing our this trait of seeking social proof.

See the amazon page (below) that you see while you search price information for something (in this case say the movie:Inception): //click on the picture to see it in a separate window//

See the Circles marked in red ink. Why we tend to prefer those things/products which have been reviewed or recommended by majority? What if, I say that there is very good book, but not body has recommended it yet! See the picture below:

Here again, you can vouch for yourself, why amazon is making us recommendations here! Because huge amount of data from the past consumer buying behavior proves that we all (if not fully, at least up-to certain extent!) have a tendency to do/choose/join/suggest things what others have done/ going to do.

Google is the classic case in point! Google does every thing from showing search results to charging money for ads, on social proof basis. For example it will show the search results for the term "Ideas at the Bottom" in the following way:

Google again is seeking social proof.Because if nobody had visited this site before, you would get the search results different! And it also varies on the basis of the geographical region that you belong i.e. US, Germany, UK, France, China, Israel or India!

As I already said, this is first article of the series "Ideas to Ponder series", you would write about more of such human traits that we display every now and then, but never considered to be worth pondering about. 

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