So … er … ah …
You know that thing where you’re out to drinks with friends, and you’d very much like an IPA―but then the first person to order chooses an IPA, and you feel like you can’t order the same thing, because that would be weird? So you order an amber ale instead. The drinks arrive, and you unhappily sip the second-choice beer you already regret ordering.
No, seriously. I … I … I mean … really?
This actually happens?
You know, that thing. Or maybe you don’t. It’s a semi-regular scene from my own life, anyway, and it’s also a scene from Wharton professor Jonah Berger’s new book, Invisible Influence, which is about the unseen ways the people around you shape your behavior. The beer anecdote is a brief rundown of a study conducted at a brewery by the consumer psychologists Dan Ariely and Jonathan Levav, who argue in their paper that people are highly motivated to signal their uniqueness, even when it comes to something as small and dumb as ordering a beer.
Alright, then. I just learned something.
No, really, I had no idea.
Dahl, Melissa. “The Annoying Psychology of How Your Friends Influence the Beer You Order”. Science of Us. 9 September 2016.