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The Persuasion Law of Social Validation aka "Everyone’s Doing It"

The greatest difficulty is that people do not think enough of themselves, do not consider what it is they are sacrificing when they follow a herd. - Ralph Waldo Emerson.

The Persuasion Law of Social Validation (SV) is one of the twelve key laws outlined in celebrated Author Kurt Mortensen’s book: Maximum Influence. Mortensen fits this Law of SV into the frame of “fulfilling emotional needs.”

As with Social Validation, these twelve laws are both conscious and subconscious. They are neither good nor bad. They are automatic triggers. Whether people recognize it or not, they work!

What is the Law of Social Validation?

Simply put, it means “everyone is doing it” so that justifies also doing it. Some, might compare this to group think. It is that, and also more specific. Most humans enjoy being affiliated with someone else and their activities. Most folks care about what others think. They determine “correct behavior” by observing others’ behaviors.

-Everyone who signs with me signs a Non Disclosure Agreement (NDA) Clause.

-All of my clients have a dispute resolution clause in their contracts. It is standard.

So, based on these two statement above, present and future clients naturally sign these clauses.

Many, when they hear SV, conform. Peer groups are very influential.

-For example, why did X vote for candidate Y? X asserts, everyone in my garden club voted for Y, so I did too.

Another way of understanding SV is via “social norms.” Mark Rodgers, in his book Persuasion Equation-The Subtle Science of Getting Your Way, says the age-old approach to attaining buy-in “is through normative means or via the social norms of a group—as in, all the kids are doing it.”

Social Synchronization: Author Kurt Mortensen, in his book Persuasion IQ, relates SV to the concept of social synchronization. “Everyone is judging everyone else, intentionally or not, people are constantly judging and categorizing others, compartmentalizing them into boxes.” Research shows when a positive perception is created, one has an 85% chance of persuasion. A great persuader can connect with anyone in 30 seconds or less.” Rapport and connection are connected to SV.

Master Influencer Robert Cialdini tells the story of an info-commercial experiment. One version ended the commercial with "operators are waiting. Please call." The other half, "if operators are busy, please call again." The second version resulted in tripling the calls since people believed that they were part of a mass phenomenon. This is a classic call to action using the principle of consensus: Everybody is doing it.

Physiology of the Persuasion Law of Social Validation

When asked about Social Validation, nationally recognized speaker and trainer Joe Giordanocpa offered this:

"When thinking about Social Validation, maybe Serotonin is released by the brain when, among many other things, we feel accepted by the group, when we feel we fit in. It creates a sensation of comfort, and pleasure feeling, to feel we are part of our group. So it might simply be a chemical thing for which we were naturally selected. Those who are accepted wind up protected by the group, and live long enough to find more and accepting affiliation opportunities."

Medical research supports this statement. Serotonin is often called “the happy chemical.” It is a neurotransmitter that mediates satisfaction, happiness and optimism along with well-being. There is a lot to learn, but serotonin plays a major role in emotions and mood. The brain produces all of serotonin it uses although serotonin can be found in other parts of the body. Affiliation and social validation pervades the human social landscape.

How to use the Persuasion Law of Social Validation.

The one who wants to influence can use steps to guide behaviors, attitudes, and decisions of others.

Step 1: Identify the interests of your audience.

Step 2: Identify groups who share the same interests as your audience.

Step 3: Share with your audience those groups who have similar interests and agree with the issue or product or service that you are promoting. Your audience is more likely to conform when they see that other groups they identify with are sold on it.”*

Examples of Social Validation.

-Schools: Schools are replete with social validation examples beginning with clothing, tennis shoes, and jewelry including piercings (ear, nose, tongue, etc.)

-Clubs: Whether it be the Rotary Club or the Garden Club, SV is evident in clothing, lunch items, and activities, as well as their thinking and views.

-Homes and neighborhoods: In DC, it is of no surprise that so many celebrities have lived in Georgetown or that former First Daughter Ivanka Trump was essentially a neighbor of the Obamas in the Kalorama neighborhood. In the Columbia Heights DC neighbor in the early 1900’s, many Jewish German folks lived.

-Sports: Think of the acceptable behaviors of yelling, screaming, singing, shouting, laughing that takes place at wrestling, boxing, soccer, football, basketball arenas, and bars, but not at tennis, golf, backgammon championships. This is SV.

-Campaigns, rallies, demonstrations: In the same vein as “sports,” participants in these activities usually go with the flow, shouting such slogans as “lock her up” (referring to former presidential fandidate Hillary Clinton) or “Fire Fauci” (referring to National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases director Dr. Anthony Fauci). Do they really mean it or are they going with the flow? In Hong Kong now, demonstrators are shouting and singing, "Reclaim Hong Kong. The revolution of our times!"

-Social Campaigns (No Smoking): Many so-called social campaigns worked partially because of SV and partially because of legal laws. Examples would include non-smoking, seat belt use, motorcycle helmets, non-use of plastic bags, etc.

-Social Media (Facebook, Tik Tok, Twitter, NextDoor): A lot of people join and participate because their family members or their local circle of friends have.

-Army Base Training-Chewing and Spitting Tobacco: An outside trainer delivers training at this base twice a year. At the beginning, the trainer creates ground rules with the assistance of the participants. Of course, one would expect such guidelines as only one person speaks at a time or do not interrupt.

Invariably, at this base, the participants include in the ground rules that they be allowed to chew and spit into a can, tobacco. All agreed. That was the culture. This is SV.

Worrisome aspects of Social Validation.

-TV Series - This Is Us: The main character and family patriarch, Jack, wants to enter into company management. Management invited Jack to a company dinner. They had the habit of playing payment lottery. Each manager would place their credit card in the middle of the table and whichever one the server chose would pay the entire bill. Jack does not make management money, has a family with 3 children, and could not afford to do this, but he did. His credit card was chosen much to his consternation and the dismay of his wife when she learned of his participation in this foolhardy game.

-Hazing and Bullying: People are often astounded that their wonderful child would participate in hazing and bullying at fraternities, sororities ,and schools. Some hazing has resulted in deaths and some bullying has resulted in suicide. How could so called “good” children do this. Answer, maybe, social validation.

-School children bullying 68 year-old grandmother bus monitor: This is a 10-minute cell phone video of school bus children bullying verbally and physically the 68 year old grandmother of eight. They poked fun at her weight and her son committing suicide. The video went viral. The parents of the “good” children were shocked and emotional about their bullying actions. Not one child spoke in defense of the older lady.

Taliban Afghanistan shooting of woman: CNN secretly recorded the stoning of a woman who had been accused of cheating (adultery) on her husband. Her Taliban husband took her to the Town Square and shot her nine times while scores of men cheered, shouted, and danced.

-Iranian stoning of gays: Actress Shohreh Aghdashloo sponsored the filming of this execution of men accused of being gay. This takes place in a stadium. The two men received 60 lashes, were wrapped in sheets, buried up to their neck, and then the mullah gave the go-ahead to stone. The men kissed each other on the cheek three times and excitedly stoned the men to death.

-Rape acceptable laughing issue in prisons? Young handsome lacrosse player was convicted of second degree murder. A happy our group at the local bar viewed this news on the bar TV and all began joking and laughing about what would happen to him, especially shouting that he would be some prisoner’s “boy” soon. This is a common feeling and reaction throughout the United States. Most simply do not care what happens to prisoners and even joke about their becoming crime victims. How is this explained? SV.


The Persuasion Law of Social Validation works both consciously and subconsciously. It is highly influential and highly worrisome. People who want to influence should also know that the larger the group, the higher the likelihood of conformity. The more identification with the group, the more likely will be the change in attitude or behavior. The more popular the product, the more likely, social validation works.*

SV is a psychological phenomenon often signifying conforming to a group or crowd. People have the innate desire to be with a group. People value other people and other people’s opinions. People often feel validated when they see others doing it.


*Maximum Influence: The 12 Universal Laws of Power Persuasion Paperback – June 12, 2013,by Kurt Mortensen

“How would you like to be able to read anyone instantly? Get people to trust you instinctively? Change minds easily? Convince anyone to give you almost anything? These “powers” are not unobtainable Jedi mind tricks but are actual skills that everyday people can discover and develop within themselves--today! The secret lies in the 12 Laws of Persuasion”


-DISC Conflict Management Styles Instrument. Many conflict management classes use this instrument to begin a discussion on styles. This site presents “a lighter side” to this discussion.


See Recommended Books under “Blogs” drop down menu. Clicking on any book will lead one to the discounted Amazon site.

Roy J. Lewicki is the author of 'Essentials of Negotiation', published 2015 under ISBN 9780077862466 and ISBN 0077862465. Publisher: McGraw Hill Higher Education

The Conflict Resolution Training Program, Leader’s Manual, ISBN: 0-7879-6077-2. Prudence Bowman Kestner and Larry Ray


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