Monday Video: Conformity

Via Howard Rheingold, Face the Rear: An Illustration of Social Influence rings true like a bell. I love playing with “elevator etiquette” by not standing the way the group is. Last month at eLearning Africa in Dar es Salaam, our hotel had one elevator out, and tons of people moving in and out of their rooms on the same schedule. Yup, crowded elevators. I was on the 7th floor of my 13 floor hotel and each morning as I sought to descend, the door would open showing me a packed elevator. Overpacked according to standards here at home. Body to body. But everyone seemed quite comfortable, if hot. But I had to switch my tactics (because the lights were burnt out on the stairs, so that was a tricky option as well.) I hit the up button, got on as the car was going up in the morning and rode down 13 to 1 on the ever filling car. In the back. In the corner. Watching — you guessed it — how people behaved. How they accommodated a suitcase. What Africans did vs colleagues from Europe or North America. So when I saw this video, I was hooked. Watch the video. Then one more comment at the end…

When I think of group dynamics both face to face and online, there is this dynamic of conformity. It is stronger in some cultural contexts and in my experience, stronger F2F. But it also exists online — despite all the talk that people act with less inhibitions online. Some people do. Not everyone. 😉

And for my US friends, Happy Fourth of July!

3 thoughts on “Monday Video: Conformity”

  1. This piece inspired a lot of experiments. You are probably right about the F2F strength as there is so much out of band communication going on, but it is clearly strong in online interactions as folks like Lynn Cherny and Will Hill (among others) showed in the 90s. Online interactions are different, but certainly not magic.

    Recently there has been work on sexual dimorphisms in online communication – a lot of subtle things need to be considered and the basic skills of communicator have to be as sharp as ever.

  2. Now I am wondering what differences might be seen between Africans, Europeans and North Americans?!

    Great post, Nancy.

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