I never observed many animals before moving to the farm – just the usual dog and cat pets. Nowadays I watch my four-legged “pets” everyday and what I’ve observed in them is close to what I see in people — herd mentality.
Herd mentality is defined as the tendency for people’s behavior or beliefs to conform to those of the group to which they belong. Scientists have been studying this phenomenon for decades (maybe even longer). If your mother was like mine she said, “Be careful who you surround yourself with.” While we hear that when we’re children, it’s advice that should be taken into adulthood.
Take for example our little herd. The cows (and horse) move in packs, always looking for something greener on the other side of the fence. There’s always a leader and multiple followers. Starting early by the water, they roam over the acreage from one side to the next. And when they see us drive up, they run (literally) knowing they are getting some treats, all mooing in harmony.
There are two little calves that like to do their own thing. While not minding their mothers, the larger herd tend to keep them in line. They can intimidate and push to make sure they go in the right direction. Just watching them I laugh and cry at the same time.
We’d like to believe that each choice we make is based upon our independent assessment and best judgment. But, unfortunately, that’s not always the case. Even as adults we’re prone to being copycats. As reported by Amy Morin (Forbes, July 25, 2014), research concludes that when people didn’t have a strong opinion about the choices presented to them, they simply mimicked the people around them. Rather than asking questions, or spending time learning about products, people deferred to the “social default.” Those involved in the study chose products far inferior because they were copying the people around them.
As for me, I’d like to think I’m more like those calves that set out in their own direction avoiding the herd mentality. It’s easier said than done, but not impossible. At this stage in my life I’ve stopped being on auto-pilot and I’m making a conscious effort to form my own opinion. I make every attempt to take the time necessary to do my research to form my own opinion, thus avoiding the stress of succumbing to the masses.
Two sayings speak volumes to me: (1) successful people don’t make it to the front of the pack by sticking with the crowd; and (2) it’s better to be known as a lone wolf than a copycat.
I’d like to hear what you think?
Romans 12:2 “And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.”