Have you ever been the only person who thinks differently in a group? The fear you have of being ridiculed is the same fear that will keep you from standing out. Shake the claws of fear of standing out and conformism from your neck.
It is amazing how human beings are conditioned by pressure from society. Dr. Ash’s study renewed the philosophical discussion about the freedom of the human being: it is assumed that we are free to decide our course in life, but this type of experiment calls that freedom into question.
If you feel threatened enough by the environment not to defend what you know is correct, not only will you end up supporting the opinion of others, but you may end up acting as others act, without noticing how correct or harmful it is. .
Experiment with accomplices
More than sixty years ago Solomon Asch, a renowned psychologist, conducted an experiment on human behavior: in a room he brought eight young volunteers, seven of whom knew the genuine nature of the test (they entered as the doctor’s accomplices); number eight believed that it was a visual acuity test, as they were shown three vertical lines of different lengths and a fourth, separated from the rest, which was exactly the same as the first. Asch asked the volunteers to say out loud which of the three vertical lines was equal in length to the line set aside. He intentionally asked the “accomplices” for their response first so that the “guinea pig” participant would respond last.
It was an extremely easy exercise to answer. However, the “accomplices” gave an incorrect answer, but all the same and when it was the turn of the last one, he had the option of answering what he perceived to be the correct answer.
Fear of giving a correct answer
For whatever reason, most of the “guinea pigs” decided to give the same wrong answer. Each group of eight people had to respond to 18 exercises of the same type and in total there were 123 “guinea pigs”, but only 25 percent of them indicated the correct answer, which in all cases was a different answer than the seven. “Accomplices” had given.
The investigation did not end there. After the exercise, they went on to a short interview where the true intention of the experiment was explained to them and they were asked if their answers were really what they had wanted to give. All those in the universe of 75 percent who had answered wrongly, said that they had perfectly distinguished which was the correct line, but that they had not said it for not breaking the concord of the group and for fear of being ridiculed.
Follow the crowd
As part of his conclusions, Dr. Asch wrote: “Conformity is the process by which members of a human group change their thoughts, decisions, and behaviors to fit the opinion of the majority.”
I once heard a prominent opinion leader tell this anecdote: While in high school, one day, to express their disagreement about being assigned to a building they did not like, members of a class decided not to enter their sessions in all day (he was part of that class). They made a kind of student “strike” of just one group. When the school principal found out, the next day he prevented them from entering the school if they did not bring a note from their parents justifying the absences that their protest had caused. The boy returned home, explained to his mother what was happening and asked for a note. The mother wrote the following:
“Dear Mr. Director: Please excuse my son’s absence yesterday. His behavior was nothing more than the result of following the crowd.
In academic circles they call “Solomon syndrome” the habit of making decisions and assuming behaviors to avoid distinguishing oneself, stand out or stand out in some group, such as the family, school class or work team. We seem to be afraid of succeeding in order to prevent our achievements from offending others. And that attitude goes hand in hand with envy when we see another succeed or excel.
Here is a poetic thought from Marianne Williamson: “Our deepest fear is not that we are incapable but that we are infinitely powerful. […] Don’t shrink with the intention of preventing others from feeling insecure around you. Greatness is in everyone, and by letting your light shine you give others permission to do the same. By freeing ourselves from our own fear, our presence will free others.
It can be hard
A few months ago my 7 year old son was called a “liar” by his classmates and his teacher for saying that spider crabs breathed through gills. It was true what he said, and he knew it was correct. It was not easy, but he was able to understand that an entire classroom and a teacher who were wrong at one point did not make the information they had correct.
The same will happen with your moral, family and societal convictions, and with the professional path that you have drawn for yourself and in which no one trusts, but only you. You can be the only one who does not drink alcohol, who does not smoke, who does not have a lover, who does not steal, who does not lie, who does not even give in to the temptation to cheat on an exam, although many will say that “everyone does ».
Just remember the note from the young man’s mother and adapt it, as I have done, imagining my mother writing it: «Dear friends of Rafael: my son loves you very much and will always be your friend, but he already knows the dangers of following the crowd. Excuse him if he contradicts you by defending what he considers correct.