Social Proof And Positive Mental Attitude


By Diane Gold


Social Proof And Positive Mental AttitudeSocial proof is the sociological/psychological phenomenon of where people “reference the behavior of others to guide their own behavior.” [Jennifer Cardello- Nielson-Norman Group] Another way of saying it is being influenced by other people’s choices (O.P.C.) to the point of making the same one.

When we see celebrities, charismatic people and heroes promoting something, doing something; we take that behavior into serious account when making our (sometimes hasty) choice to do that same thing. We like to conform, because in conforming, we align ourselves with others and are not alone. We strengthen our social identity.

Here’s a quote from the not-always-knowing Wikipedia from whom many get a kind of social proof,

“Formal analysis shows that it [social proof] can cause people to converge too quickly upon a single choice , so that decisions of even large groups of individuals may be grounded in very little information.”

But converge we do. Here are a list of things that we do that are perfect examples of social proof in action:

1) See a person run into the ocean to save a whale that needed to be turned around to avoid sudden death,

2) Choosing our political candidates because our friends, parents, celebrities are voting for them,

3) Choosing to go to Harvard because that credential puts us in a special place,

4) Seeing someone who is famous, beautiful or handsome in a particular company’s clothing and running out and spending the rent on that same clothing to be part of the in crowd,

5) Being in a sorority or fraternity house and seeing a fellow sister or brother rape someone and being influenced to take part in the rape, when, other than to be accepted, we would never think we were the kind of people who would rape,

6) Being in the street where someone is being beaten, seeing someone run in to help the victim, seeing another person run in to help the first helper and choosing to run in and help,

7) Going to a charity gala whose cause you care nothing about, where people are asked to raise hands to show what denomination you will donate, and raising your hand to donate when you see so many people raising their hands,

8) Seeing a highly successful person endorse an idea, and jumping in, too, as you let yourself be influenced.


So, we know that influencers can be the catalyst for our decisions. Not a bad social tool since all of us need direction and guidance about the things about which we know not. Why not make certain that our decisions cause solutions, rather than generate unrest? Now is the perfect time to be the influencer, to be the stimulus of social proof.

I have to point to an article by New York Times reporter Nicholas Kristof where he talks about things people can do now, after the election. I do not agree with his headline where he speaks to one group; his steps work well for all people to unite, including his target group. But headlines get people to read, so headline we must.


I am paraphrasing Nicholas’ 12-Steps to show how social proof, in this case, heeding Nicholas’ words, can bring progress and positive mental attitude:

1) I WILL accept what exists now,
2) I WILL do small things in my own life, such as volunteer locally to reduce prejudice toward any peaceful religious or belief-driven group,
3) I WILL avoid demonizing people,
4) I WILL do my part to support society,
5) I WILL support groups that fight hate and I will ask for America to keep bigotry away,
6) I WILL support refugees (aren’t almost all of us refugee descendants?),
7) I WILL say or do something when someone makes a racial, ethnic, religious, human slur in my presence,
8) I WILL resist dwelling in an echo chamber and will move to listen to different views,
9) I WILL not turn my back on the needy and will volunteer or donate or both,
10) I WILL understand that progress can unfold at state and local levels,
11) I WILL take on sexism and misogyny,
12) I WILL not lose hope.



We can all be positive and continue to support our beliefs in many ways. The key would be to be supportive rather than grievance committee-ish. Let us use social proof to get us motivated to be socially involved in something good. Nothing stops because an election is over. Our society is fluid. We go on and can be great influencers. We can be the first to run to save the whale, act based on our pre-thought out belief system and not on flash and bang, we can call people out on their hateful words or actions.

Social proof determines how we act at many times in our lives. Let us pull out the leader in all of us and see, ponder and do with kindness as we build our positive world.

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Diane Gold, Founder of Warriors of Weight, Turning Habits Into Health, has been a mentor in tai chi, kung fu and meditation, has been a music, fitness and stress expert, dedicated mom, studying peaceful conflict resolution, habit replacement and has been certified in plant-based nutrition.

She believes that social proof can be used for the good, not just to make ourselves feel part of the social flow. She says,

“When we watch our role models, we tend consciously to emulate them. But, we are massively influenced all day long by what people do and say. We may, unconsciously emulate them, friends and strangers alike.

“Let us be aware of our actions, the little ones. When someone curses, we may curse. I know when someone speaks with a New York accent, my New York accent becomes more prominent – to fit in (and it makes me feel like home). I realize this is not everyone, but many of us are influenced by what someone else does. The action we choose based on this influence is the social proof we use to validate ourselves.

“We can watch this phenomenon as it happens and ask ourselves if we are acting for the good – whatever we believe is the good, using social proof to build positive mental attitude through awareness of what we do when we see.

“Let’s consider ourselves as leaders, in everything we do. Because we may be leading someone who sees what we do and copies it. We are the builders of positive mental attitude, in this regard; and it elevates us.

“By keeping aware, we can care for and love our fellow beings at all costs – and we are all always worth it.”

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