Every one of us thinks we are individuals with our independent thought process. But over the years, as we internalize the unspoken rules, we tend to become anxious and insecure. This insecurity tends to make us more conservative preferring to fit into the group and aligning with the unspoken rules that we have learned. We become complacent and hence very one dimensional in our thought process. The world is moving towards a creative economy where the imagination and determination of people to think of new and uncanny ideas is shaping the future.
The human behavior of not challenging assumptions and how conformity forms our beliefs are depicted well in the above image. The scientists started with a cage containing five monkeys.
Inside the cage, a banana is placed at the top of the ladder. When the monkey entered the room, one of monkey started climbing the ladder to pick up the banana. As soon as he started climbing, the scientists sprayed cold water on all the other monkeys to scare them. Slowly all animals understood that if one of the monkeys starts climbing, cold water is being sprayed on them.
After a while, another monkey made an attempt to reach the banana. As soon as he reached the stairs, cold water is again sprayed on them. After understanding that when any monkey climbs the stairs, ice water will be sprayed, all the monkeys prevented the monkey which goes near the stairs.
After some time, the scientists stopped spraying the cold water and then removed one of the monkeys from the room and replaced it with another one. The new monkey which entered the room saw the banana and went straight to the ladder to climb. All the other monkeys started attacking him. It stopped for a while and attempted again to climb. All another monkey again attacked him. He discovered that if he climbs the stairs, others will assault him.
Next, they removed another monkey from the original lot and replaced it with a new monkey. The newcomer tried to pick the banana. It got attacked by the remaining monkeys. Now, the monkey which entered the room before also took part in punishing the newly introduced monkey with a lot of enthusiasm! Similar way, they replaced another monkey with a new one, then the next and finally all original five monkeys were substituted.
Every time the newest monkey climbed the stairs, he was attacked by all other monkeys in the room. The animals had no idea why they should not climb the ladder nor did they understand why they should beat if any monkey tried to climb. If you observe, after replacing all the five original monkeys, none of the replaced new monkeys had experienced cold water spray. Nevertheless, none of this monkey approached the ladder to climb and get the banana.
The fictionalized version of the Stephenson study was created by a single person or whether every time the story was re-told by a different person, some aspect of it was changed, added, or removed, the way it happens with legends. But whatever the process was, there was a lot of Creative Thinkering involved! read more at psychologytoday.com
This five monkey experiment reveals how conformity forms our beliefs. Any system or society develops beliefs, based on the activities it observes from its environment. Initially, we see the acceptable behaviors and unacceptable behaviors in our work or living environment for every event in our life. These impressions without our awareness get stored in our subconscious mind. Its notion becomes stronger day by day and repeating these patterns creates our beliefs. Though many of these beliefs help us for our growth, few of them enslave us. The ones who enslave us should be broken to move beyond our limits.
These beliefs should be questioned to break them and set yourself free. Creative people are no different than the rest. They choose to pick up new ideas and beliefs and shed the conforming ideas and beliefs helping the creative dynamic to flourish!
“Conformity is the jailer of freedom and the enemy of growth.” – John F. Kennedy