Herd behavior/mentality
Posted: 03 February 2012 08:12 AM   [ Ignore ]
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In the recent thread on football riots, herd mentality/behavior came up (AKA mob behavior.) I began to think about what that really means and to question whether I am part of a herd.

First and foremost, herd mentality involves doing something because someone else is doing it.

I thought about the Reason Rally that is coming up next month. Is my attendance due to herd mentality? No. How do I know this? Because I’m not going to the rally because someone else is going. I am going because it is a rally that pronounces some of my stronger beliefs: politics should be secular, theists of all types around the world elevate hate in order to gain power, and people need to respect and behave compassionately toward others.

So, assuming that others are attending because they individually share my feelings, this is not a herd. It is a group of like-minded individuals. Much different, I believe, from a herd.

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Posted: 03 February 2012 09:07 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
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I think it is obvious that atheists, for example, are a lot less likely to “suffer” from herd mentality than the religious, but I don’t think we are completely immune to it. You may be attending the rally for the reasons you stated above, but may in fact be persuaded or influenced to act a certain way once you’re at the rally.

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Posted: 03 February 2012 10:06 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]
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I’ve criticized people countless times for being “sheep”,and that’s led me to ponder herd behavior.  It’s defined as not thinking critically about your actions and just going with the flow of everyone else,who are also not critically thinking about their actions - which is fine sometimes. Attending the reason rally is not an example of that IMO,because you’ve already considered the pros and cons,personal and impersonal motives,ect. I look at herd behavior kind of like a possible threat,and make an evaluation from that; however,I do have an irrational “aesthetic” bias towards it.

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Posted: 03 February 2012 10:16 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]
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I am sure you laugh a lot more at the movie theatre when watching a comedy, Mike, than you do at home. And there are a number of other examples I could come up with to show you that we all have “it.” People, for example, consume more food when in company of other people than when they are by themselves. I don’t think it has anything to do with being rational or irrational.

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Posted: 03 February 2012 10:25 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]
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George - 03 February 2012 10:16 AM

I am sure you laugh a lot more at the movie theatre when watching a comedy, Mike, than you do at home. And there are a number of other examples I could come up with to show you that we all have “it.” People, for example, consume more food when in company of other people than when they are by themselves. I don’t think it has anything to do with being rational or irrational.

I don’t go to movie theaters because I’m not a sheep! LOL It is true that I have it to a limited extent.

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Posted: 03 February 2012 12:05 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]
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traveler - 03 February 2012 08:12 AM

In the recent thread on football riots, herd mentality/behavior came up (AKA mob behavior.) I began to think about what that really means and to question whether I am part of a herd.

First and foremost, herd mentality involves doing something because someone else is doing it.

I thought about the Reason Rally that is coming up next month. Is my attendance due to herd mentality? No. How do I know this? Because I’m not going to the rally because someone else is going. I am going because it is a rally that pronounces some of my stronger beliefs: politics should be secular, theists of all types around the world elevate hate in order to gain power, and people need to respect and behave compassionately toward others.

So, assuming that others are attending because they individually share my feelings, this is not a herd. It is a group of like-minded individuals. Much different, I believe, from a herd.

According to what I was taught, attending the confrence or any event is usually an individual decision.  The “herd mentalitiy” comes into play when you are in a crowd that is taking some imediate action, ie. cheering, throwing rocks or even singing and a large part of the group participates.  It is used at political rallies, in combat and many other circumstanses where a group of people congregates.  As with many things it can be used for the benefit of humanity or against it.  It does seem to be part of human behavior.

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Posted: 03 February 2012 04:54 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 6 ]
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The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation ran a report a few weeks ago about how we often see teenagers dressing poorly in the winter. The expert, I can’t recall his name, mentioned that adolescent brains haven’t developed their decision-making skills properly yet. As a result, they’re more susceptible to trends and herd behaviour as a whole. They’re also at the low- end of the overall hierarchy, so that might also explain a compulsion to follow others. I can recall, when I was that age, that following the latest trend was considered cool. No one wanted to be an outsider, so we often did what others were doing. I remember when my best friend and I were going into junior high school. He told me that to be cool, we had to wear jeans every day. I went home, and told my mom, and she grabbed some hand-me-downs. Unfortunately, I was the only male of my siblings, so I ended up wearing tapered jeans with no crotch space. Didn’t even occur to me at the time because I was just trying to fit in, hahaha.

That explains adolescents, but what about adults? I’ve wondered this, myself, often. I haven’t looked at that thread, but I will later tonight. I often think that the realization that seeing others commit acts that are normally deemed socially unacceptable brings up the idea that there may be safety in anonymity. Maybe it’s an act of defiance deep down, or an attempt to regain brief control by doing something you wouldn’t normally be allowed to do.

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Posted: 03 February 2012 05:52 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 7 ]
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Teens as a rule behave the way they do partially because of brain development (their prefrontal cortex hasn’t completely formed) and those who market goods to them are aware of this. fI clothing manufactures create styles to sell because they know that teens want to be part of the in crowd with the latest fashions be they ridiculous or not by adult standards. They use propaganda such as bandwagon, testimonials, glittering generalities etc. and it works. The herd mentality can be used for profit. Those who don’t participate are often labeled by the group as outsiders, geeks, goths, gays or other epithiets that keep them in line or isolated from the clique. Interestingly, those outsiders often form their own “out group” and hang together. It often reminds me of the form of punishment of Indian groups in the Americas. The ultimate punishment for a capital crime was banishment from the village. This was considered a death sentence and often ended in suicide. Btw, teenage suicide can be linked to even a presumed banishment from the group. So it does shape our behavior. Check it out for yourself and attend a football or soccer game and see how you react! I’ll bet you’ll be on your feet cheering for your team; just don’t get caught up in the moment and punch someone in the face when they scream “your team sucks”.


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Posted: 04 February 2012 09:32 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 8 ]
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When I was in high school,the level of herd behavior was sickening - especially among girls. Anybody who didn’t fit in was bullied without mercy,the school facualty wasn’t any better;the football hero and the prom queen were like the superstars of the school and the student body was expected to follow their example,any student who doesn’t is considered a potential school terrorist. Adults seem less prone to herd behavior than teens,but only slightly. Teen sheep will become adult sheep and teen individualists will become adult individualists.

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Posted: 05 February 2012 07:07 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 9 ]
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What is needed in the school system are more freethinkers who train the kids how to be freethinkers themselves. Yu’re right about the faculty holding up the superlative overachievers as the way “you all should be”. Not everyone is a type A personality, naturally gregarious with the right physical make up to be the head of the pack so to speak. Every person has the ability to develop a talent of some sort that fulfills them in some way. After coming to this site I’ve also discovered that genes play a greater role in human development than I ever thought. I was convinced the nurture played the dominant role but now I’m not so sure.

I know that we shouldn’t base all of our knowledge on our own life experiences but the info I’ve gleaned here has helped answer a few questions I’ve always wondered about. Definitely right brained, left handed, only one in my family to be a freethinker, and a progressive Democrat. No member of my family from both sides, including collateral relatives (and I have plenty) have these same characteristics. Extending this out, both of my children are freethinkers, my son avowed his atheism in high school and because he was a rock musician was labeled a Satan worshipper by our guidance counselor (had a row over that one), my daughter still can’t relate to her high school acquaintances on Facebook. My point is that there must be something genetic going on here, from herd behavior to individuality. Are freethinkers preprogrammed to be just that? It that why getting us together is like “herding cats”? I am perplexed at times!

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Posted: 05 February 2012 08:28 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 10 ]
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Perhaps herd thinking has something to do with “mirror synapses”. 
When someone yawns, do you get the urge to yawn?  Or try looking at your watch in a crowded space and grunting, almost everyone will look at their watch to see why you are grunting…. cheese

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Posted: 05 February 2012 10:27 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 11 ]
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Write4U - 05 February 2012 08:28 AM

Perhaps herd thinking has something to do with “mirror synapses”. 
When someone yawns, do you get the urge to yawn?  Or try looking at your watch in a crowded space and grunting, almost everyone will look at their watch to see why you are grunting…. cheese

There could be something to that. It is connected to friend/family see HERE

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Posted: 05 February 2012 01:05 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 12 ]
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It may also work with other forms of nonverbal communication such as raising your eyebrows when passing someone you know. they will Envariably do the same in return. Darwin even wrote a book about the expressions of humans and animals in communication. It works too! I had my students try it out and they had 100 percent feedback.


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Posted: 05 February 2012 01:18 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 13 ]
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It’s something we all need to be vigilant about as it is wired into who we are. But that does not mean we aren’t able to rise above it, just as we ca rise above other of our base instincts.

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