Imagine you need a kidney transplant, you've just come down with end stage renal disease and you need a kidney to survive, there's just not enough kidneys available. So you're looking for a transplant, you've waited on the list for months for an available kidney. And the way the kidney list works is the people who have been on it the longest are at the top and people have just gotten on the list are at the bottom. In some cases, there are hundreds, maybe, even thousands of people before you on the list. Now finally, after months of waiting a kidney becomes available, would you take it? Think about it for a moment? You've been waiting for a kidney would you take it? Now most of us would probably say, yes, of course, we take the kidney, we've been waiting forever. Why wouldn't we take it? We need that kidney to survive to be better off. But what if you found out that someone else turned that kidney down first? If you're 100 and first on the list, for example, that means 100 other people turned down that kidney before it got to you, would you still take the kidney? Now, some people probably refuse the kidney for a bad fit. Not everybody's kidney will work in everybody else's body. It's a little bit like trying to put a BMW engine in a Toyota. It's not necessarily a good fit, but other people may have turned it down for different reasons and there's a list and they go down starting from the top and eventually it gets to you, would you be equally likely to turn it down or take it if you found out that somebody else turned it down first? Well in general, 97% of offers for kidneys are refused and again, many of them because of a bad fit. But actually researchers who studied this found that 1 in 10 people do so an error. One out of 10 people that turned down a kidney should have accepted it. And part of the reason was because all those other people turning down the kidney make you think twice. They make you say, well, if everyone else did it, everyone else turned it down. Maybe it's not as good as I thought. Maybe I shouldn't take it either. And what this points to is the importance of social influence on our decisions, other people's decisions affect our decisions all the time from the products we buy, the health plans we choose and the grades we get in school, whether or not we save for retirement, whether we vote or even the careers that we choose. Almost every decision we make on a daily basis is affected in some way, shape or form by others. So how do others influence us and how, by understanding how others influence, can we make better choices in our personal and professional lives? One major way social influence affects our decisions is something called conformity or imitation. Were more likely to do something if our friends, neighbors or coworkers have done it recently. For example, we're more likely to buy a new car. If someone who lives near us has bought one recently and people are more likely to commit a crime if others they know have done so. You might think about this idea as monkey see monkey do if other people are doing something, we're more likely to do it as well. And conformity happens for two key reasons. The first very simply is information. We look to others to figure out what the white thing is to do in a given situation. Imagine you're traveling, you're on vacation or you're traveling for work and you're in a new city that you've never been to before. It's late, it's time to find a place to go for dinner. How are you going to decide where to eat? Well, most of us use a time tested rule. We walk down the street and we look for a place that's full and we say, wow, if it's full, it must be pretty good. If it's empty, it's probably not pretty good. We use others as a signal of information for what we should do. If you live in a big apartment building and you're wondering should I wear a jacket today or carry an umbrella? What most of us do? We look out the window to see what other people are doing. If other people are carrying umbrella, maybe we should carry one as well. If other people are wearing a jacket, maybe we should do the same. And so this idea of looking to others for information is a common thing we do all the time. Same with the kidneys, right? When we were deciding whether or not to take that kidney, we look to others. And we said, well, if others are turning it down, maybe we should as well. This leads to ideas of information cascades where information cascades from one person to the next and so on. If it affects things like the stock market, if one person starts selling other people might assume maybe I should be selling as well and do the same thing. Really nice piece of research also showed it affects housing sales. Many houses have a number of days on the market that appear on the listing. You can see if a house has been on the market for 10 days or 20 days or 100 days. And what they found is that the longer the house has been on the market, the more like it is that people will leave it to stay on the market. They make an inference if it's been on the market for 100 days, if everyone else has looked at it and turned it down, it's probably not so good. Maybe I should turn it down as well. Looking at others for information is the key thing we do often. One reason we look to others is that it's a shortcut to judgment. It saves us time and effort to look to others and what they've done previously. Imagine before picking a restaurant you had to sample each place on a given block before doing it. It would take a lot of time. In fact it would take so much time, would never end up actually getting to eat dinner. And so it's much faster to use online reviews or others information. It's much faster to see if that restaurant is full and use that a signal about what we should do. And this inference is much stronger when people have less time or motivation. We don't have a lot of time to make the decision. We're not very motivated were much more likely to turn to others to help us make that decision. In fact here's a great example of people looking to others to figure out what they should do. [MUSIC] >> Would the sight of just one person be enough to get you to join? What do you think other people will do? Will anyone actually get in line? >> What I was just told to come in line so I'm not sure. Yeah. >> No, she didn't take the bait as the minutes tick by, people are curious but cautious. It looks like no one is going to join the line. >> What's up, man? >> How about these two? >> I don't know what it's for. I think it could be something good. But yeah, I just saw a sign. Yeah, come on, you'll be a 2nd 3rd people get in line. >> Will they join the line? Even though they have no idea what they'd be waiting for. They're in. We've got them. And now that these two joined the line, the floodgates are open. People just can't resist joining in. >> It looks like it could be something fun. >> And the longer the line got, the more others wanted to join. Remember these people have no idea what they're waiting for. >> What's this line? >> I think it's an event or something. >> All it took was one person and now we've got a crowd of random strangers. >> This phenomenon is known as informational social influence and it occurs when you rely on others to determine your course of action, you're much more likely to use social influence when the situation is ambiguous. Such as in a crisis or when you're uncertain about what to do and as you can see even without a clear reason for waiting our line grew and grew and grew. Yeah, it's time to get this show on the road where to exactly now that the line is moving, we wanted to see if people would follow along even though they had no idea where they were going. We're going to test the science of follow the leader with three unexpected obstacle. First, a dizzying maze. Where are we going? And even though the path makes no sense. No one is getting out of the line. Do you think these people will realize they're going nowhere fast? Looks like they're in it for good. >> Pretty amazing, right. And it's easy to sit there and go, well, I would never do that. Look at these weird, unusual people in las Vegas, they would stand in line because someone else was in line, but I wouldn't do that. Yet we unconsciously do that all the time. We're looking at others to help us figure out what to do and we use them as a signal of information to make our decisions easier. And many companies and organizations take advantage of this. If you ever bought a product or seen an ad where they say we're the best selling, we're number one, they do that for a particular reason. They're trying to show you that lots of other people have bought that product and because they've bought it, encourage you to think it's probably pretty good.