– So welcome, everyone. My name’s Ron, and your task
is to choose the line on the right that matches the line
on the left. – All right, this seems like
an easy enough task: which line on the right
is the same length as the one on the left?The answer is clearly three.[bell dings] – One. – One.
– One. – Why is everyone saying one? Are their eyes not working? Have we just discovered
some new type of illusion? No, the answer is, we paid them to lie.[electronic music]♪ ♪Today, we are going
to be demonstrating a very famous
psychological experiment known as the “Asch experiment.” This experiment
tests conformity and whether or not a person will say something incorrect simply because everyone else is. What matters more? Being right or fitting in?[calm music]♪ ♪We have five
professional actorsthat have been instructedto do as we say. Often, they will be lying about what they think
the answer is. But in position number five, a real participant
who has no ideawhat’s going on
will be seated.Now, their task is to match
the length of the line on the left with one
of the lines on the right. But what if everyone else
in the room gave the wrong answer? Would you be bold enough
to stick out and say what you saw, or would you just fit in because it’s easier
or less uncomfortable? Well, let’s find out. – So welcome, everyone.
My name’s Ron. Your task is to choose
the line on the right that matches the line
on the left. I’ll just call on you
individually, you know, in order,
one through six. – The calm before the storm. – Okay, so let’s begin.– The first few times,we’re gonna have the actorssay the correct answerto gain the trust
of our subject.The correct answer here
is three.– Three. – Three. – Number three.
– Number three. – Three. – One.
– One. – Number one.
– Number one. – Number one. – Now they’re all
gonna start lying.The correct answer is three.Let’s see what
our subject does.– One. – One.– Pretty quickly, she appears
to be confused.– One. – Um, okay, number one. – Number one. – Three… – One.[tense music]♪ ♪– You can see participant fiveclosing one eye,
then the other, trying to figure out
why everyone’s wrong. But she’s not going
along with them.Again, the correct answer
is three.[bell dings]Let’s see what
our subject does.– Number one. – Number one. – Yeah, number one. – Number one. – Three?– She’s sticking to her guns,but she appears
to be uncomfortableopposing the group.This time,
the correct answer is two.– Three. – Three. – Number three. – Number three. – Number three. – Wow. – Three.– She’s falling in line.Will she do it again?The correct answer is three.– One.
– One. – Number one.
– Number one. – Number one. – Conformed.Conformity.The desire to fit in.Peer pressure.These are powerful
social forcesthat shape our actions
and beliefsand influence how we behaveas individualsand as a society.In the original
Asch experimentsfirst carried out by
Solomon Asch in 1951,approximately 75% of subjectsconformed at least once.– One. – Hi, Ron. Sorry to butt in, guys.
My name is Michael. I just wanted to kind of ask you
a few questions about the study
you’ve been doing. This is a study on conformity. And everyone in this room
is an actor– except for you, number five. – Oh, my God! Oh, my God! This is so crazy. – And they’ve all
been instructed to give the wrong answers to see if you’ll follow along. – Whoa.
– You did say the wrong answer after everyone else had
said the wrong answer. Why did you do it? – I thought, “There’s something
going on here. “I don’t know what to do, so I’m just gonna
say what they said.” – How did it feel to do that? – It–it felt– it felt like I was
drinking the Kool-Aid, like– [laughter]
– It’s very normal. This study wouldn’t be
as famous as it was if it wasn’t normal,
though it is surprising, because so many of us would say, “No, I would always
say what’s real.” – Right. Right. – Would you? – Right, no. Clearly not all the time, yeah. – All right,
thank you very much.[upbeat synth music]♪ ♪People follow the crowd in
all kinds of interesting ways, many of which are pretty funny. Classical psychological
experiments and hidden camera pranks often involve people acting
together in strange ways to see if others will conform.Now, there’s nothing
inherently irrationalabout following the crowd
in ways like those.Conforming can be a form
of social lubrication.It’s just easier to do what
someone else is doing, because to break from that norm would be to slow things down.If everyone’s facing
the same way in an elevator,it’s not like you lose your
personal sense of identityby turning along with them.Instead, you’re just
going with the flowand not being awkward.If I see a bunch of people
on the street looking up,and I decide to look up too,there’s nothing
inherently bad about that.I mean, what it costs
for me to look up is really low compared
to the potential harm that might come from me
not seeing an imminent threat. Sometimes, conformity
is harmless. [laughter]Even laughter is a form
of conformity.We laugh if something is funny,but we also tend to laughif people around us
are laughing,even if we don’t get the joke.There are a lot of social
forces behind this:politeness,
a fear of looking stupid, and no doubt a desire
to conform– to fit in. Let’s see what happens when
there’s even more pressure to see something that’s unfunny as hilarious.We’ve invited these peopleto participate in
a psychological experiment.But here’s the thing:everyone in this roomis an actor,except this guy. He thinks he’s just killing time
in this waiting room before the experiment begins.But this is the experiment,and that’s no joke.Hey, how’s everyone doing today? [indistinct murmuring] My name’s Michael. Nice to meet you all. Thanks for participating. It’s important that everyone
be kind of in a chatty mood. So here’s a question: anyone got some good jokes? – I have a great one.
– Oh, yeah? – Why did the hipster burn
his mouth on coffee? Because he drank it
way before it was cool. [laughter] Get it, yeah?
– I get it, yeah.– Our subject thinks
the real joke is funny,but keep in mind,the joke I’m going to tell
is complete nonsense.It’s not funny.
It’s just words.Everyone but the subject has
been instructed to laugh at it.The question is,
will the pressure to conformmake the subject laugh?Okay, how about this one? Uh, a giraffe is at the airport going through the TSA line. And the security agent says, “Hey, is this your laptop?” And the giraffe says, “I thought you’d never ask.” [laughter] – Oh, my God. – You guys have never
heard that before? – No, never.
– No. – It’s pretty famous.
– I didn’t.– This is a classic example
of conformity.Even when the crowd acts
in a way that makes no sense,the need to fit in
is still very strong.Okay, how about this one? Uh, two penguins are
driving in a car. The driver says, “Hey, could you
change the radio station?” And the other one says,
“No radio. Four wheels.” [laughter] – That was better.– Laughter can be a powerful
tool for social conformity,which is exactly why sitcomsuse canned laughter.– How do you feel about
courtin’ right now? – Uncle Jake, if there
was a pretty girl on the other side of this house, I’d jump clean over it.
[laughter]– The laugh track
entices you at hometo laugh along,even when a joke
might not be that funny.So will our other subjects
feel compelled to laughat our meaningless joke?So a giraffe is at the airport. And it’s in the security line, and the TSA agent says, “Is this your laptop?” And the giraffe says, “I thought you’d never ask.” [laughter] “Hey, is this your laptop?” And the giraffe says, “I thought you would never ask.” [laughter]
– What?– Since our subjects are
in a conforming mood…– Oh, my God.– Let’s take this
a step further.– Hey, I need Katie and Lauren to come with me
for your interview. – Sure.
– Let’s see how committedthey are to fitting in.Will they repeat
the nonsensical joketo another one of our actors?– We were telling jokes earlier. Should I say the, uh… – Yes.
– The giraffe? Okay. So… – Hey, uh, Tim, I need you
to come with me for your interview. – Okay. Good.
[inaudible] – I guess the joke has to wait. – Yeah. Dude, you tell it. You tell it, bro.
– Well… – No, you got it. You got it.
Say it. – Okay, so the giraffe
is in a line– in a TSA line… – Okay.
– Waiting. – And the–
and the agent asks him, “Is that your laptop?” And he was like,
“I thought you’d never ask.”[percussive beat]– I don’t–I don’t get it.♪ ♪– Yeah, it’s gonna take you
a while to get it. – Okay. – And he says, um, “I thought you’d never ask.”♪ ♪– What’s the funny part? – I don’t know.
I–I found it funny. And it’s a giraffe.
It’s not a human. – And you thought it was funny?
– Yeah. – What was the funny part,
though? Like… – I think it was–
the funny part was the laptop, ’cause you know how
he’s so tall? – Hmm.– Do these subjects
really thinkmy meaningless joke is funny?It’s time to let them in
on what’s really going on.Everyone here today
except for you is an actor. – Okay.
– We have all been instructed to laugh at that
dumb giraffe joke, which is not even a joke. It’s just a meaningless thing. And then we see if the one
person who isn’t in on it, which in this round was you– how they respond. Why did you never say, “What?” – I think it was people
laughing around me, and I was trying to understand
why that was funny. And then I had to make sense
of it in my mind, and then I think I made it
funny to myself.– That process
of mental gymnasticsis known as
cognitive dissonance.When you’ve done something
you don’t truly believe in,like laughing just because
everyone else did,you try to come to terms
with your behaviorthrough denial
and justification.It’s not a joke; I just made
that up, and it’s nonsense. – I know, that’s why
I thought it was funny. – ‘Cause it just would–
make no sense? – Yeah, that’s why. – I don’t know.
That’s crazy, though, ’cause it did make me laugh. [laughing]
– Everyone does that. – Yeah.
– It’s typical human behavior… – Yeah. It’s true, though. – To go with the flow
and to keep things moving. It’s about just being
a good, social person. – It’s definitely a–
a conformity thing. [laughter] – One of the most disappointing
and terrifying aspects of our desire not to stand out is the bystander effect. People are less likely
to help victims if other people are around. One of the most famous examples is told in Psych 101 classes
all over the world. It’s the story
of Kitty Genovese, a woman who was brutally stabbed and raped in New York City in 1964.– It was a murder
that symbolizedthe apathy of many
to big city crime.On a March night
back in 1964,28-year-old bar manager
Kitty Genovesewas stabbed to death
on a streetin Kew Gardens, Queens.Police say at least 38 peopleheard her screamsbut did nothing to help.– The hypothesis was that
each and every one of themassumed someone else
would call the police,so they didn’t have to bother
to do so themselves.It wasn’t their responsibility, so the police were never called. And Kitty died.[somber music]But here’s the thing:Kitty’s story may
not be an exampleof conformity, at least not in the way
we normally think,because most of it
was totally untrue.38 people didn’t
witness the attack. As it turns out, the actual
number of witnesses who could have helped and didn’t may have been as few as two,and people did call the police.Samuel Hoffman spent three
or four minutes on hold before finally reaching
a police dispatcher. So where did
the number 38 come from?Well, it’s theorized that
the police commissioneractually lied to a reporterabout the number of witnesses
who did nothingin order to cover up why
it took the police so longto arrive at the scene
of the crime.And the narrative
of uncaring New Yorkersturning a blind eye
to a woman’s murderspread around the world,making front page headlines.As more and more sourcesrepeated reports they’d heard,rather than going back
to investigate the truth,a psychological phenomenon known as information cascade
took place.An information cascade developswhen people have
little information themselves,so they depend on inferences
they can makebased on earlier
people’s actions.So the conformity wasn’t on
the part of the eyewitnesses. It was in the reporting
of the story. There’s a saying in journalism: “Some stories are
too good to check.” [projector whirring]– I’m going to give you
this cupthat contains lysergic acid– 100 micrograms.– Clinical trials:they can be enlightening,frightening,dangerous…– It seems to want to take me
over too much, you see, and I don’t want
to let myself go.– And also the perfect
high-stakes settingto test the power
of conformity.[tense music]♪ ♪This is Emma.She thinks she’s taking partin a group studyto measure the side effectsof a new hallucinogenic drug.– So the drug that you are
helping us research today is NC-47. Today we’re investigating
possible side effects. You know, there’ve been some
audio-visual distortions. You may see some images
behind your eyes– um, you know, some general
feelings of either calmness or euphoria. We’re trying to examine those
a little further and find out a little bit
more about how this drug is affecting
everybody.– Emma is already looking
to the rest of the groupfor comfort.– Just take a cup,
and just hang onto it. – [whispering] Okay.– If everyone else is
participating willingly,it must be okay for her, too.[laughter] – We’re all, like,
scared to death. Okay. – Go.♪ ♪But here’s the catch:our subject didn’t take
a hallucinogenic drug at all.It was simply a shot
of flavored water.Just relax and concentrate. We’ll give this just
a little bit of time to set in.It doesn’t take long
for our actors to feelthe supposed side effects
of the so-called drug.– It’s like a– like a line that goes across. – It’s almost like I’m looking
through a kaleidoscope, but it’s, like, fuzzy.– Will our test subject
go along with the group?Or will she be bold enough
to stick outand say the truth?– It’s like a–like a lava lamp
sort of thing. – Hmm. Emma? – Um, I honestly– I don’t see anything.
[laughs] – Mm.
– I don’t see any shadows, shapes… I’m like, “Come on,
I want to see a shape.” But I don’t see anything, no.– Emma’s honesty is making her
an outsider.Notice how she says she wants
to feel the side effects,which would enable her
to fit in with the group.You can all sit down again. Okay, I want to do
the audio test. We’re just gonna
go down the line, and I want you to just
say the word “hello.”Here’s another opportunity
for Emma to conform.Will she go along
with the groupwhen she sees the actors
pretend to experiencean auditory reaction
to the alleged drug?– Hello. – Louder. – Um, hello! – And how did that feel?
What’s your reaction? – I hear, like, a delay. Like, um… Yeah, it could be
called an echo. It’s more like a…
– Mm-hmm. – Like a reverb or something. – Yup, that’s very common. All right, Ivory. – Hello. Hello.
[laughs] It’s almost like, you know,
when you watch a video, and it’s just like–
just the tiniest bit out of sync so you just barely notice it? – Mm-hmm.
All right, Emma? – Hello. Hello? Hello. Yeah, it is echoing, like you had a shot– like you had a shot of vodka. – [laughing]
– Something like that, like… – Yeah, acute audio distortion
is really common. – Okay.
– Here we see a classic exampleof conformity.But is she just trying
to fit inor does she truly believeshe’s experiencing
side effects now?– I’m feeling pretty chill.
– Ivory? – I feel kind of, like,
just relaxed. – I just feel, like,
really relaxed.– She’s now claiming to feel
multiple side effects.– But yeah, no, it’s like I… I had, like, two drinks
or something. – Right, and in this moment now, how do you feel? – Uh, kind of tired.
– Tired. – Right?
– Yeah. – Am I the only one?
– No. [laughs] – Should go, like, nap on
that bean bag, yeah.– Emma continues
to look to the groupfor reassurance
that her symptomsare in line with theirs.– I don’t know if I like it. I can’t decide. You know what I mean? What do you guys think?
I don’t know.– Whatever she thinks
she’s feeling,she wants to make sure
it fits in with the group.– The room is warmer, no? – Yeah. – Would you take this while you
were operating a motor vehicle? – No, I don’t think so. – Because… – ‘Cause you need to concentrate
on what you’re doing. But I just feel so relaxed.– Here we see an entirely new
level of conformity.Our subject is
actually experiencingphysical manifestations
due to group pressure.Other subjects also experienced
physical sensationsthat they reported
in great detail.– Hello. I hear the echo.
I can hear the echo. – So you know an echo
would go out, then in? This is, like, just an in. – I just feel, like, sensation, like, near my eye and nose area. – I feel like it’s definitely
getting brighter, though. – Okay, could you say more
about the increased brightness? – It’s not comfortable to look
at the lights, really.– What we’re seeing
from these subjectscould be a form of
informational conformity,or even what’s calleda contact high,a psychological phenomenonthat occurs when a sober personcomes into contact with someonewho is under the influence
of drugsand begins to manifest
the same physical symptoms.I can now debrief you on what has been going on. So none of you took anything but, uh, water today. – What? [laughter] – And we’re just kind of looking
at the way that groups conform together. We wanted to see
what it would take to get someone to fall in line
with the group. Did you feel actual changes, or were you saying some things just to fit in
and not stick out? – No, I felt relaxed,
so I don’t get– I can’t figure it–
I still feel relaxed. – Are you surprised
to have heard that you just drank water? – Yeah. I definitely feel different. – I actually did hear,
yeah, an echo.– The desire to conform
is so strong,the subjects continue
to believein their manifested symptoms,even after learning
the drug was fake.– I am prone to
anxiety attacks, though, so I felt relaxed. – Well, you should take
more of this nothing. [laughter] Human society is
incredibly complex.And the dueling forces
pushing us to conformand also to express
our individualityare both necessary.Other people can influence us
in good waysand in not-so-good ways.But at the end of the day,just remember this: what did the walrus
say to the doctor? Give up? Cardboard.[laughter]Go ahead, laugh. Everyone’s doing it. You don’t want to look like
you don’t get it, do you? Good, that’s what I thought. Thanks for laughing, and as always, thanks for watching.[electronic music]♪ ♪