If there is ever a date I wish I were alive on, it would have to be October 30, 1938. That evening, Orson Welles intentionally made the United States temporarily lose its grip on reality by broadcasting a phony adaptation of H.G. Wells' The War of the Worlds over numerous radio broadcasts. It was with this ingenious prank that the chapter based on Social Psychology was introduced and it was indeed a memorable example specific to both social contagion and the fundamental attribution theory.
To understand the influence of society upon our own, otherwise rational decisions, we must experience the unintentional intentions of society. Given a moment of panic, how would you react? It's a question that we seemingly root our dispositional influences, or enduring characteristics such as intelligence and personality, to. It is with this knowledge of ourselves that gives us the confidence in proclaiming "I'd never have acted that way". However, to speak theoretically upon a situation that we've never actually experienced is much easier then speaking realistically about the same situation. It's this inability to fathom that is responsible for a proclamation that underestimates the influence of society upon our behaviors.
Now the book states, "just as we often turn to others to better understand ourselves, we often look to them when a situation is ambiguous to figure out what to believe, and how to act", and as exemplified in Orson's prank, social contagion can indeed influence our interpretations of reality. To make the familiar seem unfamiliar can cause an occurrence of ridiculous irrationality.
"Psychology: From Inquiry to Understanding". Chapter 13. Pages 495-499. Print. April 29, 2012.