We've been talking about the fact that people diverge from others, that they avoid what other groups are doing if they don't want to look like those folks. But one important question is, well, when does this happen? Because we also just talked about conformity, the idea that people do the same thing as others. When do people do the same thing as others? When do they end up wanting to do something different? When do we conform versus when do we diverge? Well, it turns out it depends a lot on the product category or domain and what that domain might say about us. Imagine I asked you to make a choice. Imagine I gave you three music artists, for example, and asks you to pick one. Which one you like the best. Dave Matthew's Band, Lady Gaga or Drake. As you think about which one you like the best and think about that in your mind. Now if I asked you to think about, well, which of these three bike lights do you like better? Brand A, Brand B, or Brand C. Think about which one you'd prefer there. Now, you've got a pretty good idea of this experiment that I asked a number of people to do. I brought a couple of 100 people into the laboratory and I asked him to do a simple study where they made choices in a number of different domains. They wrote down their preferences in an Excel spreadsheet, one domain by another. They wrote down their subject number, their year in school, and then which car brand they preferred, which music artists they preferred, and which bike light they preferred. But interestingly, there was one small difference for some of the subjects. Some of the subjects sat down, and they entered their information in the computer. Other subjects sat down, and it looked like someone else had already entered some information in the computer. A prior subject had left their prior responses on the screen. It said that person had a certain identity, and it made a number of different choices. We pick that identity in particular because we knew that some of the people would want to avoid looking like that group. We did this study at Stanford University, and it turns out a lot of Stanford undergraduates don't want to look like graduate students. Graduate students are seen as geeky, dorky. They go to undergrad parties, and so undergrad students didn't want to look like those graduate students that are around them. We wondered what would happen when we told those undergraduates, the grad students had made particular choices. Would they pick the same thing that the graduate students chose, or would they decide to choose something different instead? What we found was quite interesting, for things like bike lights, people tended to do the same thing as others. But for things like music, people tended to avoid what that group had chosen. What's the important difference? While certain products are more functional, whereas others are more symbolic. Certain things like the bike light we use, the backpack we carry, what type of pen we use is mainly for its functional benefit. We do those things for the functional benefits they provide. But other things are more symbolic. Things like music, cars and clothes are domains that people make lots of inferences about others. They're much more symbolic or communicating of identity. What does that mean? Well, in these more functional domains, people do the same thing as anyone. The fact that someone else said they liked a given bike light or liked a given pad of paper suggests it's pretty good, and we should do the same. It provides that information we talked about previously. But in these more symbolic domains, we're going to care a lot about who is doing it. Not just the fact that others like it, but who those others are. If they're like us, or they're part of a group we want to look like, we're happy to do it. If the cool kids are doing it, we're going to do the same thing. If organizations that are high-status are doing it, our organization might do the same thing. But if other organizations we don't want to be associated with they're doing it or other people we don't want to look like are doing it, we're going to avoid doing it. It's not just the functional value of that product or service, it's what it communicates out about us to do the same thing.