The Asch Experiment: Do you conform to social pressures?
In 1951 psychiatrist Solomon Asch devised an experiment to investigate the extent to which social pressure from a majority group could affect a person to conform. Asch called upon 50 male students from Swarthmore College in the United States and told them to come in for a 'vision test'. He broke them up onto separate groups of seven where six were given instructions of what really was going on. Only one was left naive and clueless, legitimately thinking he was going in there for a vision test. Everyone else was told to agree on the wrong answer 12 times out of 18 (the 12 being called the 'critical trials'). The boys were told to match the line on the left with the line of the same height on the right.
The unknowing boy went last each time. This made it possible for him to hear the answers everyone else gave before him exposing him to the pressure to conform. What do you think happened? On average, 32% of the participants conformed to the 12/12 incorrect answers the majority gave in the critical trials, 75% of participants conformed at least once, and only 25% never conformed at all!
One thing to note is that this experiment was done in the 50s in the States when conformity was the social norm. This "I'm so unique" attitude didn't appear until the 1960s, and is definitely overbearingly present today. The over arching, big-picture conclusion that I abstract from all of this is something my father always said to me; engage your brain before engaging any other part of your body. Don't agree with what everyone else is saying without first having thought through it yourself. On the flip side, don't be different for the sake of being different without analyzing what you're standing for. Engage your brain, use it frequently. It's Friday night; think before doing anything foolish.