[The following is an exact transcript of this podcast.]
Most of us follow the beat of our own drummer. But it turns out that members of our social networks are great predictors of how we’ll respond to future events. In a study in the March 20th issue of the journal Science, researchers at Harvard had undergraduates go on five-minute speed dates. Some women read a brief bio of a guy and his tastes. Others were told how much a woman who had already speed-dated the guy enjoyed herself.
Before each date, the ladies had to predict if they’d have a good time. Most believed the bio would enable them to better gauge if they would like the date. But women who read about someone else’s experience had half as many missed predictions as those trusting their own instincts.
The researchers say such “surrogate” information may be strong because we’re more alike than we think. Even people of different cultures share similar likes and dislikes. Plus we tend to hang out with people who share our interests. So while we may be marching to our own beat, we’re always part of a bigger band.