The Frontal Cortex

Crowds and Psychology

This prank reminds me of that Stanley Milgram experiment where people stopped on busy New York City sidewalks and looked up. When only one person was stopped, about 4 percent of pedestrians joined the man and looked at whatever he was looking at. But as Milgram increased the crowd size, more and more people stopped and stared. In other words, it was a positive feedback loop. A bigger crowd staring at the sky led to even bigger crowds. And everybody was looking at nothing.* Such is the power of “social validation”.

*I like to pretend that this psychological phenomenon explains American Idol.

via kottke

Comments

  1. #1 llewelly
    February 1, 2008

    I like to pretend that this psychological phenomenon explains American Idol.

    I guess the truth is too horrible to contemplate.

  2. #2 Steve
    February 2, 2008

    I like your blog, but it would be much easier to read if you used a larger font!

  3. #3 Beverly Eubanks
    February 3, 2008

    I would probably reacted like everyone else. I would tried to find out what in the world was going on.

  4. #4 Hank Roberts
    February 6, 2008

    Great opportunity for picking pockets.
    Speaking hypothetically, of course.