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Conformity reigns on social media

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Teenage study results

32 teenagers were told they were participating in a small social network similar to Instagram. In deciding whether to click that they liked a photo, the teenagers were highly influenced by the number of likes the photo had.

From the UCLA study:

“We showed the exact same photo with a lot of likes to half of the teens and to the other half with just a few likes. When they saw a photo with more likes, they were significantly more likely to like it themselves. Teens react differently to information when they believe it has been endorsed by many or few of their peers, even if these peers are strangers.”

“In the study, this was a group of virtual strangers to them, and yet they were still responding to peer influence; their willingness to conform manifested itself both at the brain level and in what they chose to like.”

Peer pressure to conform has long existed, but online likes are different. “In the past, teens made their own judgments about how everyone around them was responding, when it comes to likes, there’s no ambiguity.”

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