Affiliation Study – When in fear, people tend to affiliate

Affiliation StudyI was watching a video on social psychology today. It was a very interesting experiment that the scientist was conducting on his students. The researcher posed as a neuroscientist and visited his students to perform experiments on the affects of electric shock on a person.

He told the students that in order to study the behavior he will give small amounts of electric shocks on each students individually. Some of which may be very severe. The same professor addressed a different set of students with the same experiments only this time he told them that the shocks will be very mild and they would not feel anything more than a tickle.

He never ended up giving electric shocks to any of them. This experiment was in fact to study the human behavior when faced the same conditions with different parameters. Clearly the first group got uneasy and hesitant to participate in the experiment while the second group was not hesitant.

The researcher however conducted an additional experiment on the second group. He told them that while each person is undergoing the experiment the rest of them have a choice to either wait in the next room alone or with a group of their friends. He wanted each of them to list down their waiting preference. It turns out – almost everyone wanted to wait in a group.

The experiment was used to study human behavior to mingle with people when they are in fear or distress. More the fear, greater the affiliation. One of the conditions when people want to be to together is when they are fearful or anxious.

In real life too, we experience such behavior. One of the first things that we do when we are afraid, we seek for company. If the lights are out or if you are stuck in a lonely road with a flat tire – you call someone for help – regardless of whether the person can fix the problem or not. All we need at that time is company.

Not just fear, we also seek company when we are happy or anxious about something. Talking to someone instantly diverts our mind and helps provide us relief from stress if any. What other times do you think human seek company?

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