Social proof is a psychological term used to describe the common phenomenon of herd behavior:
Social proof, also known as informational social influence, is a psychological phenomenon where people assume the actions of others in an attempt to reflect correct behavior for a given situation.
…Social proof is a type of conformity. When a person is in a situation where they are unsure of the correct way to behave, they will often look to others for cues concerning the correct behavior.
Social proof can take many forms, from inspiring copycat mass shootings to canned laughter on a sitcom, to announcing 19 billion burgers served. Social media relies heavily on social proof, as people strive to increase their influence by accumulating followers, likes, etc.
Popular culture has simplified the concept of social proof as something simple but rare. This is a misinterpretation and misuse of evolutionary psychology.
There are actually many different kinds of social proof, and they have different effects on female attraction:
Popularity: Many people know and like you.
Status: People pay attention to what you do and say.
Influence: People change their minds to fit your worldview.
Prestige: People respect your skills and expertise.
Extroversion: People perceive you as outgoing and socially confident.
Fame: People hear of you via media before meeting you.
Why is social proof important in mating?
Evolutionary psychologist Geoff Miller points out that ancestral men acquired and stored their wealth mostly in the form of social capital, not in the form of monetary capital:
I’ve written before about the difference between dominance and prestige in How Women Really Feel About Male Dominance. Research on female attitudes about dominance in mating (Snyder, Kirkpatrick, and Barrett, 200 found that:
When given the choice between dominance and prestige, women demonstrate a clear preference for a high-prestige male over a high-dominance male.
Women prefer low-dominance males for both long-term and short-term mating, but the preference is stronger when seeking a long-term partner.
Women prefer high prestige partners over low prestige partners, and this preference is also stronger for long-term vs. short-term mating.
Women find dominant behaviors attractive in the context of athletic competition, but penalize them for both short- and long-term mating.
Both men and women use social proof as a shortcut to evaluating quality and potential. It’s one way of ascertaining a person’s relative status within a group. It cannot be assessed by looking at someone’s car or a dance floor makeout. It requires careful observation of the way a wide variety of people respond to a person, and the degree of influence that person exercises over others.
My advice to young guys looking to increase social proof would be to focus first on developing some degree of extroversion – or at least master some extroverted behaviors. Extroversion is a trait that is highly prized by women in mating, and increasingly in our society. Second would be to develop your skills and expertise to achieve career success and garner influence among your peers.
Don’t waste your time negging randoms at the bar or pretending you have to leave when you really have nowhere else to go. That’s not the kind of social proof women value.
Readers, which of the six forms of social proof do you value most in a man?
Which are easiest to detect quickly and accurately?
Can you think of another form of social proof you’ve personally responded to in the past?
I can think of one – I’ve always had a soft spot for men who are good with kids, and I know I’m not alone. Little League coach? Camp counselor? Swoon!