What is social proof?
When you find yourself joining in a standing ovation at the theatre without a second thought, or when you choose a busy restaurant over the empty one next door - despite the long waiting list - you are experiencing the effects of social proof.
Social proof - also known as social influence - is the psychological and social phenomenon where we mimic the actions of others in order to behave correctly. The term was coined by Dr. Robert Cialdini in his bestselling book Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion. Cialdini found that when making a decision, people are guided by six principles of influence:
- Consistency - the desire to be consistent with what we have already done or said.
- Reciprocity - the desire to give back to someone who gave you something.
- Authority - the desire to follow the expert.
- Consensus - the desire to follow the lead of others.
- Scarcity - the desire to have things that are rare.
- Similarity - the tendency to like similar others.