Having joined the Accelerated Solutions Environment (ASE) team with a background in Psychology, I often find myself contemplating the links and applications of psychological concepts to this unique way of working. I am constantly surprised at just how relevant some of my academic learnings are. I thought I would take this opportunity to briefly write about one psychological concept to open the debate about if and how it relates to collaborative working and the ASE models.

Social Proof

Social Proof- or related concepts such as social conformity and social norming- basically tells us how affected we are by the people around us. We rely on our peers to decide how to feel, what to think and how to act. From an evolutionary perspective this makes sense. Generally, following the group norm leads to less errors then going against it. The principle of Social Proof is a deeply rooted human drive, which affect us more than people think.

Don’t believe me? Look at this social experiment:

Susceptible Customers

Marketing experts often rely on this concept to convince customers to buy their products. Informing customers about how many others like the products and are currently using them can have a massive effect. How often do we read that a company has 1,000,000 likes on Facebook, or that people who bought what you bought also bought this other great product? It is a very common marketing technique.

In fact, in one experiment conducted by Goldstein, Cialdini and Griskevicus in 2008 the effect of Social Proof is particularly evident. The experimenters worked with a hotel that was trying to persuade their customers to reuse their towels, rather than requesting new ones each day. In each room they presented one of two signs in the bathroom. The first was an environmental message which highlighted the negative effect the towel change has on the environment. The second was a Social Proof message, which read that 75% of other guest reuse their towel. I found it surprising to learn that there was about 10% more reused towels in the group with the Social Proof message. So, there you have it: telling people that others are doing something can be more powerful than focusing on taking care of our planet. Pretty amazing if you ask me.

Collaborative Working

So, how is the principle of Social Proof relevant to the ASE? Should this be considered when designing collaborative work groups? How can an understanding of Social Proof lead to better ways of working?


Please feel free to discuss below!