Wanting to fit in leads to interesting behavior

A new study in the Journal of Consumer Research finds that people are willing to alter their behavior in a quest to try to fit in:

“Social exclusion is a very painful experience, which makes it a strong motivator,” explains Tyler Stillman, a visiting sociology professor at Southern Utah University, who is one of the study’s co-authors.

In one experiment, researchers paired study participants with a partner who left midway through the study. Some of the participants believed their partners left because they didn’t like them — and those people were more easily talked into buying a silly school spirit trinket. In another study, people who felt excluded were more likely to say they were willing to try cocaine. Researchers say their findings could have real-life implications.

Interesting results. If these results are all based on lab experiments, how much more willing would people be to change their behavior to fit in when confronted with real people?

I would be curious to find if the study looked at different age groups. If lab experiments were only conducted with undergraduate students, might the results change if the same experiments were done with older adults?