In 1956, researchers at Swathorne College set up a simple study to determine the extent to which humans are influenced by others. In the experiment, participants were shown a series of lines and were asked to identify which was the longest. The subjects were organised into groups of four, but three members of the group were actors who had been instructed to purposefully misidentify the longest line. Despite the glaring difference in the lines, a third of participants agreed to the wrong decision, demonstrating that the influence of others is powerful enough to override our perception, and even our logic and reason.
Another study conducted by Dr Pearl Chiu at the Fralin Biomedical Research Institute showed how other people can have a direct impact on our risk-taking instincts. Participants were given the option of taking a risk, or opting out and receiving a less substantial gift. Chiu found that when participants observed others making safe choices they were less likely to take a risk as a result.
The results showed that other people can directly influence our instincts, our perception, and, crucially, our conviction in taking a risk. The closer we are to a person the more influence they will have over us. We subconsciously give more credence to others depending on the power dynamics of the relationship. A child will give a lot of weight to the warnings of their parents for instance, or an employee will consider the advice of a mentor or a boss. As this credence goes up, we risk blindly following the advice of others, simply because we have already invested value into their perspective.
The problem is, others do not always have our best interests at heart or truly understand our perspective. Others may not have the knowledge about your idea or understand your passion for it. Yet, as the studies demonstrate, even strangers can alter our perception, override our instincts and stop us from taking a risk. A rebel entrepreneur, on the other hand, will take opinions into consideration, but they will not override their own self belief. They are aware of the dangers of influence and strive to maintain their own values, while listening to their gut. They pursue their dream without being held back by others.
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