Peer Pressure In A Different Light


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Peer pressure is a common topic that we hear about basically on a regular basis. Since grade school, teachers and parents have engraved it into our minds that we should never be pressured into doing something we don't want to do. However, have you ever thought about peer pressure in the opposite way, where we are feeling the pressure to NOT do something, even if that means putting our life in danger?

In a study conducted by scientists, they had three different groups be placed into a waiting room at separate times and while those people were waiting, smoke would start to come out of a vent and fill the room. Group number one consisted of only one person in the room, group two had three people in the room but two of the people knew about the study and were told to act like they didn't notice the smoke, and the final group had three people who did not know about the study at all. The conclusion that the study found that in group number two, where only one person wasn't clued in on the study, only 10% of those people not knowing about the study reported the smoke. 10%! Think about that, you are in a room filling with smoke, your first thought would be there is a fire in the building and I need to get out as soon as possible. Yet, only 10% of people felt the need to report the smoke. At first thought you would think this is ridiculous, but then I started thinking and if no one else in the room said anything about the smoke, would I be the one to be different and report the smoke? What would you do in the situation?

Now, there is no doubt that this study is interesting and somewhat alarming, but how reliable are these numbers? If you check out the actual article where I found this study, there are really no details on who was used in the study and the people who were conducting the study. The people who ran it were referred to as "scientists" with no other background information. Also, it was not said how they determined who would be in the study, what age they were or what gender they were. On top of all that, it doesn't even mention how many times they tested out these three groups. In another study that talks more about how the brain works when it comes to peer pressure, very briefly and vaguely talks about how the study was done. To me, science is hard enough to believe sometimes, so how can I believe these findings when I don't even know the background? How would you conduct the study if you were studying peer pressure? Do you think these studies provide enough information to be believable?
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1 Comment

I think this study sounds like a pretty reasonable and logical way to test peer pressure. I'm not sure what I would do in the situation either especially because I would probably be afraid that people would think I'm crazy if I'm seeing smoke and they don't seem to be noticing anything at all. However, 10% sounds like a pretty drastically low number to me. It's like that show "What Would You Do" on abc where they film a situation in which someone is being treated unjustly to see who or if anyone speaks up for them. I think it follows the same lines of peer pressure to not do something and it's a good experiment to study. Would you be the one to stick up for the person? Here's an episode on Youtube of the show: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ieYm0sKoqkY

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