Social Contagion and Congruence

I was on a flight last month and the person across the aisle ordered a meal. Then the next person did. And another. It was as if everyone thought it was a good idea at the same time.

Dr. Susan David, a psychologist at Harvard Medical School, labels this as “social contagion” in her book “Emotional Agility.”

Similar to Jim Rohn’s quote “You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with”, David’s social contagion model further explains why we do things when “we think that people like us do.”

For example, we go to college because people like us go. We don’t dress in that manner. We drive this type car. Live in this type neighborhood. Buy this brand of computer.

And these values, if unquestioned, unconsciously drive our every action through congruency. We think one way, value that thinking, and thus act accordingly (or wish to be seen acting accordingly.)

The secret? We choose what we value.

Workers not wearing hardhats? Fall protection left in the truck?

Read this book.


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