Earlier today, I made my first blog post. After a few hours, I was excited to see that a couple of people had commented their thoughts and opinions. When I went to read their comments, however, I got extremely confused. They both referred to me as Anna.
pic found here
My name is Rachel.
At first, I assumed that I somehow made a mistake and displayed my name as Anna. I went to check, and surely enough my name said Rachel Sara Anton. I came to the conclusion that the first person must have seen my last name, Anton, and confused it with Anna. But how does that explain the second comment? I called my friend who is also in Science 200 and told her leave a comment that started off with “Hi RACHEL” in all caps so that no one else would get confused. I check back an hour later, and get this: a fourth person left a comment: “Anna, this blog was very interesting.”
COME ON GUYS. How could three people make the mistake of calling me Anna after my friend commented my real name in all caps, and my blog has my name clearly displayed as Rachel?
Then it hit me—social psychology.
Social psychology is the umbrella term that includes informational social influence and conformity, two of the concepts that I suspect caused my name to be Anna for the day.
Let’s start with informational social influence. This is defined as the phenomenon where people adopt the actions of others in an effort to perform a behavior correctly for a given situation. In my blog situation, the second person most likely assumed that the first person was correct and therefore adopted the behavior of calling me Anna. In this article, splits social influence into two types: private acceptance and public compliance. In this situation, public compliance was used. Public compliance is when we copy our peers because we fear rejection if we behave otherwise. Most people would do just as the second person did in this situation. We as people often assume that if our peers do something, it is okay for us to do it as well. Think about your mom’s favorite quote to keep you out of trouble: “If all your friends jumped off a bridge, would you do it too?” This is especially prevalent in situations where the mission at hand is significant to us, such as a homework assignment this early in the school year.
Conformity also plays a role in my blog dilemma. Conformity is when we alter our own way of thinking in order to fit in with the group. Think about the fourth person who commented. He or she most likely saw two people call me Anna and only one person call me Rachel. In this case, the person most likely conformed to the majority, and the majority thought my name was Anna. Even if this person may have questioned if my name could be Rachel, he or she felt more comfortable calling me Anna because that’s what just about everyone else did. Although my blog post is a simple example, conformity is actually very complex and can be traced back to our brain (check out this article for a cool explanation).
I think this could all be related to the idea that science is not derived from eminent people, a concept we learned in class. Just as science is its own entity and cannot be claimed by “special” people, my name cannot be decided by my classmates. In the same way that we cannot simply trust observations and opinions about science, we cannot trust our peers just because they all trust each other.
This post was brought to you by RACHEL 🙂