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  • Sophie: Hello and welcome to 6 Minute English. I'm Sophie.

  • Neil: And I'm Neil. Here's your coffee, Sophie.

  • Sophie: Neil, remember that staff meeting we had yesterday?

  • Why did you agree to having decaf coffee in the kitchen when I know you don't like it... and neither do I!

  • Neil: I know. It's just that the boss said that decaffeinated coffee

  • that's coffee with the caffeine removedwas a good idea, healthier, you know.

  • And then everyone else agreed.

  • And I... I don't know... I just felt uncomfortable disagreeing with everyone.

  • Sophie: Well, it's interesting you should say that, Neil.

  • Groupthink is the subject of today's show.

  • Groupthink refers to the type of bad decisions we make when we are in a group.

  • Decisions that are contrary toor againstwhat we really think.

  • A psychology experiment conducted in the 1950s showed that a lot of people do exactly that

  • they submit to the will of the group.

  • Neil: But before we hear more about this, now would be a good time for today's quiz question.

  • And I get to ask you, Sophie!

  • Sophie: OK. What is it?

  • Neil: In which story by Hans Christian Andersen does a young boy dare to tell the truth

  • when everyone else goes along with an obvious lie?

  • Is it... a) The Red Shoes b) The Snow Queen

  • Or c) The Emperor's New Clothes

  • Sophie: OK... I think it's c) The Emperor's New Clothes.

  • Neil: Well, we'll find out later on in the show if that's right or not.

  • Now, the psychologist Solomon Asch is well known for his conformity experiments from the 1950s.

  • Can you tell us what "conformity" means please, Sophie?

  • Sophie: Conformity means behaviour that is the same as the way most other people behave.

  • Asch's main finding was that group pressure can change a person's opinion, of even obvious facts.

  • Neil: And what did this Asch test involve?

  • Sophie: 123 male participants were shown a card with a line on it, followed by another card with three lines on it.

  • The participants were then asked to say which line matched the line on the first card in length.

  • The right answer was plain to see, but the participants felt pressurized into saying the wrong answer.

  • Neil: Why would they do that?

  • Sophie: Because the majority of people taking part in the experiment had been told to give the wrong answer.

  • Let's hear Professor Nick Chater's explanation.

  • He works at the Warwick Business School here in the UK.

  • Nick Chater: By the time it comes to you a whole list of people have said something plainly wrong

  • and you are either going to have to fold and say,

  • "well, I just agree with them" or you're going to rather uncomfortably say, "well, I think it's one actually".

  • And most people, most of the time, tend to fold.

  • Neil: Professor Nick Chater. He uses the word fold, which means you give up.

  • But, Sophie, if people are uncomfortable about supporting the wrong answer,

  • or something they don't believe in, why do they do it?

  • Sophie: Because even though we feel uncomfortable going along with

  • or agreeing withsomething we don't believe,

  • we're even more uncomfortable about disagreeing with the group.

  • Neil: Well, I didn't realize that people were such sheep. I have a will of steel, Sophie.

  • Sophie: Is that right? So, your will of steelor strong determination

  • somehow melted away in the staff meeting yesterday, I suppose?

  • Neil: Oh well... of course... yes...

  • Sophie: Let's move on and consider briefly how social media encourages groupthink.

  • Neil: Yes, there's a real danger with something like, for example, the Twitterthe social networking service.

  • Because when an opinion on Twitter starts to "trend", it can take on a momentum of its own,

  • and people adopt it simply because it's popular, not because they really believe it.

  • Sophie: And momentum means a force that keeps something going once it has started.

  • Let's hear from journalist and author, Jon Ronson. He has an interesting opinion about this.

  • Jon Ronson: One of the ironies here is that on social media we all like to see ourselves as nonconformists

  • but when we all get together in a group

  • what we're doing is using our individual nonconformity to create a more conformist world.

  • So if somebody steps out of line, all us nonconformists, in this frightened conformist way, tear them apart.

  • It's like we're defining the boundaries of normality by tearing apart the people on the outside.

  • Sophie: Jon Ronson. Are you a nonconformist then, Neil

  • someone who thinks and behaves differently from other people?

  • Neil: I'm not the type that Jon Ronson is describing

  • one who joins up with other so-called nonconformists to bully people with different views.

  • Now remember I asked you earlier: In which story by Hans Christian Andersen

  • does a young boy dare to tell the truth when everyone else goes along with an obvious lie?

  • Is it... a) The Red Shoes, b) The Snow Queen

  • Or c) The Emperor's New Clothes?

  • Sophie: I guessed c) The Emperor's New Clothes.

  • Neil: And you were right, Sophie!

  • The Emperor's New Clothes is a story by Hans Christian Andersen about two weavers

  • who promise an emperor a new suit of clothes that is invisible to those who are stupid or incompetent.

  • No one dares to say that he doesn't see any suit of clothes until a child cries out,

  • "But he isn't wearing anything at all!"

  • Sophie: It's a great storyand a lesson to us all. Now can we hear the words we learned today please?

  • Neil: They are:

  • decaffeinated

  • groupthink

  • contrary to

  • conformity

  • fold

  • going along with

  • will of steel

  • momentum

  • nonconformist

  • Sophie: Well, that's the end of today's 6 Minute English. Don't forget to join us again soon!

  • Both: Bye.

Sophie: Hello and welcome to 6 Minute English. I'm Sophie.

Subtitles and vocabulary

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B1 UK TOEIC sophie emperor clothes conformity jon

BBC 6 Minute English April 14, 2016 - Do you think for yourself?

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    Adam Huang posted on 2016/04/16
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