People adopt made-up social rules to be part of a group

From Ars Technica

Image of someone jumping off a bridge.

If your friends jumped off a bridge, would you follow them? For parents, it’s meant to be a rhetorical question—a way of winning any argument that begins with “But all my friends are…” But behavioral science has been revealing that adults will do a long list of stupid things simply to maintain bonds within social groups they consider their peers.

In the latest sign of just how stupid we can get, researchers found that people are wiling to adopt an ethical standard after being told that people like them were assigned that position at random.


The new work was published by the University of Melbourne’s Campbell Pryor, Amy Perfors, and Piers Howe. It’s based on past research that looked at how social norms are established. This work has suggested two means that drive their adoption. One is simply practical: people will adopt social standards that are popular because it’s likely those standard have some utility. An…

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