How do we define social proofs? What are social proof examples in the real world? How dangerous are negative social proofs?
In Influence, Robert Cialdini describes “The Social Proof Principle,” which states that when people are unsure of how to behave, they base their behavior on the behaviors of others in the group. Social proofs can be defined as a way to cope with insecurity and pursue social acceptance.
Read on for a social proof example in the real world, taken from Glennon Doyle’s book Untamed.
Received Cultural Messages
In Untamed, speaker, author, and activist Glennon Doyle explores how she freed herself from the strictures of society and embraced her true identity by rejecting the expectations and limitations society imposes on women. Her book is an intimate memoir—telling her personal story of addiction and rehab, falling in love with a woman, leaving her marriage, and rebuilding her family—and a call to action. Doyle wants her social proof example in the real world to be used as a framework for women to examine their lives and deconstruct societal expectations. Doyle believes this will liberate women from the metaphorical captivity that limits their potential.
Negative Social Proof Examples
As a child, Doyle was creative, sensitive, imaginative, and intuitive. As she reached adolescence, however, Doyle started receiving and internalizing damaging cultural messages about what a woman should be: pleasing and agreeable, self-sacrificing, attractive to men, able to repress her emotions and desires, and deferential to others’ opinions.
Doyle abandoned her unconstrained childhood self to conform to these expectations and began bottling up her emotions, distrusting her intuition, and dismissing her imagination—this messaging took away her freedom and put her in the cage of society’s expectations.
As a result, she constantly sought approval from others and suffered from low self esteem, anxiety, and depression. These societal expectations so completely consumed her that she was domesticated and lived in a state of captivity by age ten. (Shortform note: Doyle’s social proof example in the real world aligns with research that indicates that age 10 is when children start to internalize the gendered expectations that society communicates to them.)
|Social Proof Examples in the Real World: Why Girls Are Disproportionately Affected |
In Doyle’s social proof example in the real world, she describes how she was susceptible to the messages of her culture and internalized them at an early age. One of the reasons Doyle was so affected by this messaging is that humans place a high value on social acceptance and are therefore constantly observing the behaviors of others to guide their behavior.
In Influence, Robert Cialdini describes “The Social Proof Principle,” which states that when people are unsure of how to behave, they base their behavior on the behaviors of others in the group. Social proofs can be a way to cope with insecurity and pursue social acceptance.
When thinking about this negative social proof example, remember that adolescent girls can be particularly susceptible to social proofs because they are more sensitive to rejection or social disapproval than boys. As a result, manufactured social proofs—social proofs deliberately created to manipulate behavior—disproportionately affect girls. A pervasive example of manufactured social proofs are the messages in advertising that aim to convince girls that they are not good enough. These kinds of manufactured social proofs can have long-lasting negative consequences, including anxiety, depression, and insecurity—all of which Doyle has struggled with throughout her life.
Social Proof Self-Reflection
In Doyle’s social proof example, she received messages from society that told her what to be—pleasing and agreeable, self-sacrificing, attractive to men, able to repress emotions and desires, and deferential to the opinions of others. In this exercise, you can reflect on your experiences and compare them with Doyle’s social proof example.
- What kinds of social conditioning did you experience as a child?
- How were these messages communicated to you?
- How have these messages affected you? How have you changed yourself in order to fit into other people’s ideas of who you should be? (Social proof example in the real world: A child feels pressure to achieve academically—as a result, the child went from being a relatively carefree child to an anxious teenager who feared failure.)
———End of Preview———
Like what you just read? Read the rest of the world's best book summary and analysis of Glennon Doyle's "Untamed" at Shortform .
Here's what you'll find in our full Untamed summary :
- Glennon Doyle's story of freeing herself from society's rules and expectations
- Why you should rebuild your life using emotion, intuition, and imagination
- A look at how young women are taught to repress their emotions and desires