Why So Much Conflict? Pt 2

In the last article on this topic we discussed the contributors, if you will, to conflict:
Let’s do a quick review of that article:

– We discussed that tribalism is built on the “us” vs. “them” concept. The “us” is everything “good”, “right”, “worthy”, “rational”, and “true”. Whereas “them” is everything “bad,”, “wrong”, “unworthy”, “irrational”, and “false”.

– We talked about how confirmation bias helps affirm these beliefs as it is the tendency to search for, interpret, favor and recall information in a way that confirms or supports one’s prior beliefs or values.

– We put forth the “cure” for this to be the use of “critical thinking skills.” And the execution of critical thinking by way of questioning. Questioning our ideas and others’ ideas to determine the validity of those ideas and how this is not happening in today’s culture. In fact, it’s the opposite, in that we are told what we should think, and if we don’t “fall in line” we are ignorant and must be canceled or thrown out of the tribe.

In this article, I’m going to discuss the psychology of what is going on in our culture today and that is the behavior of conformity and how that has brought us to where we are regarding tribalism.

You may not think you are succumbing to this and are sure that your worldview or perspective is the “correct” one, but I caution you on this assumption. By way of example, I dug up an old psychology study from my days in college and found Asch’s 1951 experiments on conformity.

Conformity is a powerful manipulator. Conformity is the tendency to “change” our thoughts, feelings, or behaviors to be consistent with group norms.

– Group norms are society rules for how to think/behave (e.g., shaking hands)

– Conformity is pervasive (e.g., hairstyle, clothing style, etc.)

– Even “non-conformists” conform (e.g., same style of clothing, makeup, jewelry, tats, and piercings)

Now back to Asch’s experiment on conformity:

The experiment was testing the hypothesis that people will “change” their thought about something very simple and obvious if they were influenced by the group’s think.

In this experiment, Asch had a “target line” of a certain length that was going to be compared to another set of three lines to determine which of the three lines was the same as the target line.

sls art

You can see by the picture above, that the answer is obviously C. C is an exact match to the target line.

Then the experiment in which Asch had control groups and experimental groups.

– The control groups were made up of individuals but contained no “confederates” – think of these as influencers.

– The experimental groups were made up of one “test subject” and seven “confederates”.

In each control group (no confederates) individuals were asked to compare the target line to the other lines and which one matched. 99% of the participants gave the correct answer of C.

In the experimental group (remember – made up of one test subject and seven confederates), the confederates answering first and the test subject answering last resulted in 1/3 of the test subjects in all 18 trials being willing to ignore reality and give an incorrect answer to conform to the rest of the group.

33% purposely answered incorrectly to CONFORM to the group.

Now, I find this both “encouraging” and “scary” when I consider this in the context of today’s culture wars that are infecting our workplaces.

If I apply the same principles of conformity to the tribes we have today, I realize that 1/3 of them may not truly believe the tribe’s precepts and are simply conforming to that tribe’s worldview. That to me is encouraging because eventually, those that use their critical thinking skills will (hopefully) realize they are being manipulated and return to reality.

At the same time, what scares me is the lack of critical thinking skills in our culture today. Adding that that, we cannot count on today’s media asking questions or using critical thinking skills to get to the correct answer. They, along with big tech, are just espousing the views of their particular tribe to gain conformity.

So it’s going to be left to each one of us to engage in dialogue, ask questions, seek to understand other’s perspectives, and not fall into the trap of not sourcing alternative information.
Today, under the tribe’s “rules” we are being told NOT to source information from counter ideas/thoughts, as they have labeled it “misinformation” by one tribe and “fake news” by the other tribe. Don’t fall for this. This is not how any of this is supposed to work. It’s a lie, to keep the “house divided”.

Source alternative information, engage in discussion without judgment and seek to understand others while challenging your own current precepts. That will allow for more, not less dialogue, which tends to lead to a better understanding of not only other’s points of view but also ours.