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There's a classic prank from the TV show, Candid Camera which you can see on YouTube and has been reproduced widely on sociology and psychology sites. In the prank, a group of people have been planted in an elevator and face the rear, an uncommon way to ride an elevator with one entrance. A hidden camera is placed outside the elevator aimed squarely at the door so people's movements into and within the car can be seen. The victim of the prank enters, and the audience sees him get visibly anxious and then conform to the group pattern and face the rear as well.
It has even been updated by on the US ABC network show, What Would You Do?. They dwell even more on the implications for people's personality. Most people, whether they know it or not, just go along with the group and “fall for” the set-up.
In this segment, “Would you fall for that?”, the announcer refers to the set-up as an “Asch experiment,” after experiments conducted by Solomon Asch which tested whether or not people's perceptions on reality were influenced by what they say as the majority opinion.
The videos are funny, and seem to be self-evident examples of “conformity.” Are there more ways to read these? Look at the facial expression of the victims. Look at their own body language as the body language of the group starts to appear as a majority opinion.
The myth of Goffman's elevator
One of my favorite anecdotes is a story about a sociologist who wanted to demonstrate the way that social norms influence people's behavior in public, even at a minute level of posture and gesture, and how uncomfortable people feel when they or others fail to meet these expectations. In this story, Erving Goffman supposedly enters an elevator and stands facing the back. The rest of the passengers struggle to maintain their composure, but find themselves fidgeting and inching away from Goffman, the violator of an implicit social norm.