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Glossary: Social Proof
The GAMESbrief Glossary
Social Proof is one of the six Influence Principles which are used to persuade people to buy products or services.
The idea of Social Proof is that people are likely to do things which other people are also doing. Sometimes that’s a negative thing; you ignore a man lying in the street because everyone else is also stepping around him. Usually, though, it’s a neutral or positive behaviour that’s simply part of everyday life. We act with a kind of group mentality – and our minds are programmed to enjoy and feel comfortable with activities that make us into part of the group.
From a games perspective, Social Proof is incredibly important. There are two different levels of Social Proof – the wide view (we enjoy playing games which are popular in general, so show people how popular your game is) and the more personal view (we specifically enjoy playing games which our friends and acquaintances are playing, so show your players which of their friends are also playing). Social Proof mechanisms in your game make people more likely to start playing and more likely to keep on playing once they’ve begun.
The Influence Principles are based on Robert Cialdini’s book Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion, which you ought to read. The other five principles are Reciprocity, Commitment, Authority, Likeability and Scarcity.