Tuesday, 8 April 2014

The champions...

An excerpt from the book Homo Imitans by Leandro Herrero:

The pre-existence or the engineering of a common goal very often links people together in a way that accelerates social copying. In a recent television series in England, school students with no particular singing skills or interest in singing were invited by a charismatic young (external) teacher to create a choir in a school without choir tradition. At first, the teacher was frustrated as he was not able to get many students to join. Then, a tipping point moment followed where the enrollment of some induced the enrolment of others and, suddenly, a very reasonably-sized choir was formed. At some point (‘threshold change’), social copying (enrolling, attending class, singing, rehearsing) took over and singing in a choir became acceptable. Eventually, this brand new choir entered a large public competition at a first-class venue.

Many of the components of social contagion that will be addressed in this book were present in that television series. The champions: mainly the young teacher and the head of music. The backstage leaders: the headmaster and other teachers. At first, they were baffled, but then they understood that their role was to support the choir in the background and to be seen doing so; not to come along to choir rehearsals and pontificate about ‘the importance of singing’. The behaviours: joining the queue for enrollment, rehearsing, being punctual and talking about it. The attitude of the students: initially sceptical and even hostile, but then turning into positive when they saw a critical mass (a group of their own peers) on board. The threshold change: slow intake and change at the beginning, then things speeding up quite quickly. The social reinforcement: being able to sing per se and in front of people; the visit from other young choir singers from another school of similar social status (‘people like us’) and, probably, the presence of the cameras.

For more visit www.viralchange.com

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