Most of us will, at point in our lives, have heard some variation of phrase, “So if your friends jumped off a bridge, would you jump too?”, usually from some kind of authority figure. It was a personal favorite of my mum. So common in, fact, that I took to sarcastically responding with, “yes. If all my friends jumped first, I’ll have a soft landing.” Don’t be a clever clogs, kids, it’s never worth it.
— Megyn Kelly TODAY (@MegynTODAY) March 21, 2018
Of course, as an adult I realize that my deliberately stupid answer isn’t that far from the truth. There’s mountains of studies suggesting that not only are most people incredible prone to succumbing to social pressure, they’re actually very good at picking up behavioral cues subconsciously. It’s an interesting phenomena that can have some funny effects, as English illusionist and mentalist, Derren Brown, proves in the video above.
Brown’s appearance on The Megyn Kelly Show was to promote the recent US release of Derren Brown: The Push on Netflix. Originally released as Pushed to the Edge in the UK back in 2016, the show demonstrates how an ordinary person could potentially be manipulated into committing murder.
The premise behind “psychological illusionist” Derren Brown‘s upcoming Netflix special, “The Push” is very simple: is it possible to manipulate an ordinary person into committing murder? Here’s the Netflix description:
In The Push, Brown exposes the psychological secrets of obedience and social compliance. He expertly lifts the lid on the terrifying truth that, when confronted with authority, our natural instinct is to unflinchingly obey without question – to such an extent that even the most moral people can be made to commit the most horrendous acts, simply because they are told to do so.
From a strictly sociological/psychological viewpoint, that’s fascinating stuff, and certainly valuable in our current political clime. But what about the poor guy who’s not in on the scheme? If he does, indeed, go through with the faux murder, how will he be viewed by his friends, family, future employers? How will he view himself?
Of course, Derren Brown isn’t just some shmuck out to go viral, so one has to assume all of that has been taken into consideration. Hopefully the special will answer those questions when it comes to Netflix on February 27.