The One Minute Millionaire Diamond Mine
 Inner Wealth Perspective
  Using Social Validation With Marketing
    by Kurt Mortensen


Festinger, Pepitone, and Newcomb coined the term “de-individuation” in 1952. De-individuation refers to how, when we find ourselves in a group, we become less self-aware and also less concerned with how others will evaluate us. Think of all the people you’ve heard yell obscenities at sporting events. Do you think they would do that if they were in a small, intimate group watching that same event? Basically, de-individuation means that when in a group, we feel more anonymous and therefore less individually responsible for our actions, often causing us to say or do things that we would not normally feel comfortable with.

Diener, Fraser, Beamnan, and Kelemn conducted a study that showed how de-individuation can lead to antisocial behavior. On Halloween, researchers evaluated 1,352 trick-or-treaters – either alone or in groups – who had the chance to steal candy from 27 Seattle homes. The researchers figured that Halloween would be the perfect occasion to conduct such a study because the children would be in costume, making them more anonymous. When the children came to doors where they were greeted by experimenters, they were told they could choose only one piece of candy. In some cases, the experimenter asked the children their names, while in other cases the children were allowed to remain anonymous. The experimenter would then leave the room, as though they had to go get something. Unseen observers took careful note of how the children responded: When alone, 7.5% took more than one piece of candy; when in groups, 20.8% took more than one piece! It was also interesting to observe that the children who remained anonymous stole more candy than did the children who gave out their names. De-individuation prompted many of the trick-or-treaters to go against what was socially acceptable and steal more candy.

Social Validation and Conformity or Groupthink

Anytime we find ourselves part of a group, we feel some susceptibility to peer pressure and/or the opinions of others in the group. The more esteem we feel for the group, the more their opinions matter to us, and therefore the more we feel pressured to align our own opinions with those of the group. Even if we don’t really agree with the group, we will often go along with them so we are rewarded instead of punished, or liked instead of scorned.

In a way, this is an obvious observation. Anyone who has ever been to the movies knows that the size of the crowd in the theater has a big effect on how good the movie seems: The larger the crowd, the funnier the comedies are. The larger the crowd, the scarier the horror flick is.

Consider the following other examples:

  • Conforming because you believe everyone else is correct.
  • Conforming because you fear the social rejection of not going along.
  • Conforming simply because it’s the norm.
  • Conforming because of cultural influences.

Social Validation and Marketing

Certainly a huge part of advertising is to make a product seem very popular. Marketing professor Max Sutherland explained, “The more a brand is advertised, the more popular and familiar it is perceived to be. We, as consumers, somehow infer that something is popular simply because it is advertised. When people are buying gifts for others, social proof is one of the most effective tactics that a sales clerk can use.”

Many salespeople find great success in telling clients that a particular product is their “bestselling” or “most popular” on hand because such a tactic increases the social validation of the product in the mind of the buyer. When customers feel like something is more popular, they spend more money to acquire it, even if there is no proof other than the salesperson’s word. So it is with advertising: Simply asserting that a product is in super high demand or that it is the most popular or fastest selling, etc., seems to provide proof enough! When consumers think a product is popular, that’s often all they need to go out and buy it.

The creation and use of social validation is rampant: Clubs make their spots look like “the place to be” by allowing huge waiting lines to congregate outside their facilities, even when the place is practically empty inside. Salespeople often recount the many other people who have purchased the item in question. Sales and motivation consultant, Cavett Robert, said it best when he stated: “Since 95% of the people are imitators and only 5% initiators, people are persuaded more by the actions of others than by any proof we can offer.”

Making Social Validation Work

The power of Social Validation can be used to your benefit in any persuasive situation. If your product or service is socially validated, people are most likely to use it or to switch over to it. People are always looking around and comparing themselves to see if they line up with everyone else. If they feel a discrepancy between where they are and where everyone else is, they will most likely conform to the group standard. Consider the following ways you can enhance the effects of social validation to your benefit:

1. The larger the group, the better.
The larger the group, the more people will conform. Social theory shows us that when a group grows, so does conformity to that group.

2. The greater the familiarity, the better.
The more a person can identify with the group, the more that person will be influenced to change their behavior and/or opinions. Social validation is more powerful when we observe people we consider to be just like us.

3. The clearer the principle of social validation, the better.
Find the best use of social validation in your product or service. Is it the best selling, the most popular, used by the elite, the fastest growing? Is it part of a trend or is it the industry standard? Who uses it? Do you have testimonials from other clients or users?

For more information on the world-famous, fastest-selling, highest-rated Magnetic Persuasion Training, log on to Many cults try to use unethical social validation to keep new followers.

Kurt Mortensen, author of Exponential Success Skills and Weapons of Influence, is one of American’s leading authorities on Persuasion, Motivation and Influence. After receiving a Masters of Business Administration and a Bachelors of Arts, he began many successful entrepreneurial ventures, through which he has acquired many years of both experience and success. In addition to his extensive entrepreneurial and sales experiences, Kurt is a sales and persuasion coach helping thousands of people reach higher levels of success, income and persuasion mastery. Currently, he is a speaker, consultant, and a Trainer for Mark Victor Hansen and Robert G. Allen Protégés.