Friday, November 20, 2009

The Elevator Social Experiment

A while ago, at work, I conducted a mini social experiment on human behavior.

A group of about ten people were gathered in front a bank of three elevators with me after a large presentation let out. We all stood in front of the elevator doors chatting with each other while waiting for one of the elevator doors to chime.

The idea for this little experiment came to me. I stepped away from the group and walked towards one of the elevator doors and stood directly in front of it.

Everyone in that group, still chatting with each other, followed me and gathered in front of the elevator door in front of which I stood, despite the fact that none of the chimes had sounded to indicate the arrival of an elevator car. Apparently no one noticed that there was no chime, but did notice that I had moved towards one of the three doors.

Then, the chime on a door sounded, and everyone in the group was surprised to find that it was not for the elevator they were standing in front of. What surprised me was that no one in the group seem bothered that I had fooled them with my experiment. They nonchalantly entered the open elevator door and went on with their day.

This non-scientific social experiment taught me a lesson -- examine the facts before blindly believing or following someone else's statements. And if you find out that you've been fooled, at least care and learn from it for next time.

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