You are told that successful people are loners and visionaries more than often spend their time alone. To be successful, one must leave behind naysayers and surround oneself with people who agree or are of the same mind as you.

“You are what you eat” is a proverb we are all familiar with. Extending from this, you do become what your crowd is. It’s because human perception depends on societal acceptance and hence, your brain does become rewired according to your audience.

What really is the science behind right crowds propelling us ahead and the wrong ones holding us back?

The Shrinking Or Growing Line

There was a fascinating result to an experiment conducted in the 50’s by one Solomon Asch, a Swarthmore College psychologist. He had asked a group of volunteers to estimate the length of a vertical black line on a plain white card: The result was that each person’s estimate varied depending on what everyone else thought. A person surrounded by people who overestimated the length, overestimated it themselves and vice versa. Their perception became a subject to the influence of others’ opinions.

Asch hence confirmed what polymath Gustave Le Bon had theorized about five decades before him in his treatise ‘The Crowd: A Study of the Popular Mind’, something which was read by Hitler, Mussolini, and Lenin among others. Le Bon’s argument was that “the sentiments and ideas of all the persons take one and the same direction and their conscious personality vanishes.”

Mechanism Of The Brain

When your opinion matches that of the people around you, the reward pathway in your brain gets stimulated and you feel good about it.

Scenario two is if your opinion does not match that of the others, then the same pathway is negatively stimulated and you feel pain. When this happens, two possible things happen.

One, you can pretend to agree while holding on to your thoughts secretly.

Or two and more probable, your brain activity changes how you think and molds your innermost thoughts to match that of your crowd.

A network in your brain involving the medial frontal cortex and anterior insula monitors “errors” in how you are conforming to people around you. This response is triggered as soon as you disagree with your crowd.

In Conclusion

In conclusion, it is obvious that the brilliant, world-changing, innovative, streak inside you can and will be hampered and hindered by negative naysayers you surround yourself with.

At the same time, if you have optimistic, energetic people around you will boost your life positively.

If a crowd can change your thoughts, it can change who you are in essence. When you pick people to hang out with, you are in effect choosing the people you want to become-choose wisely.

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