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Following the Crowd

Hey guys!

            I thought this was an interesting article worth sharing with you all. According to a study conducted by Daniel Haunn, a psychologist at the Max Planck Institutes for Evolutionary Anthropology and Psycholinguistics, chimps and toddlers are more susceptible to follow the crowd, while orangutans are not. In Haun’s study, he created a box with three colored holes and displayed a treat to the animals and toddlers when a ball was dropped in a certain hole. The toddlers and animals watched four other members of their species accurately interact with the box and were then given the opportunity to explore the box for themselves. Unlike the toddlers and chimpanzees, the orangutans generally acted individually and chose random holes instead of following the trend of their species, as well as the chimpanzees and toddlers. Dr. Haun states that this reason might be due to the high amount social interaction toddlers and chimpanzees experience compared to orangutans that grow up in more isolated environments with a smaller amount of their species members present.

            I found this article interesting because it prompted me to think about what other species follow the crowd, and why humans at such a young age are prone to follow the actions of other members of their species. Although they received a treat if they put their hand in the right hole, I still found it interesting that orangutans chose to place their hand in different holes. Maybe it is a matter of intellect, or general boredom, or maybe they chose not to follow the crowd because others had already done the same thing. I am not sure, but this article made me think about “peer repeating behavior” and why the orangutans did not copy it” (NYTimes). What do you think? Do you think other species are prone to follow the pack or follow their own instincts as opposed to the majority?



Categories: Uncategorized
  1. April 22, 2012 at 11:09 pm

    I volunteer in both a first grade and Pre-k/kindergarten classroom (in different schools), and have always been interested as to why children follow ‘the pack.’ What I find most often is that some students will follow the bully who says mean things to other kids, or the student who talks out of turn, doesn’t listen, etc. – basically all negative things. In my first grade classroom, I once asked a six year old why he follows the bully of the class, and he said, “Because he’s here.” I found this profound, especially for a six year old. What I took from this is that children, in the absence of a negative influence, will act according to the teacher’s rules. When the negative influence is present, however, children will follow their lead, maybe because they get the most attention.

    As we grow older, I think there’s a wish to simultaneously stand out, but also be part of the pack – I definitely feel that way. Overall, finding a balance between being influenced by someone else and standing on our own is a struggle I think people deal with at every age.

  2. April 23, 2012 at 12:27 am

    I agree that the question of whether to follow the crow or not is one of the most important questions today. The “crowd habits” start to form from the childhood, kinder garden and follow people throughout the whole life. The question of mode for little girls who put the lipstick because her friends are doing it, or the question of music tastes, hobby or subject choices is always influenced by public, by social trends. People who are not following the crowd can be called outfitters and can barely get friends especially in high school or even university. The hypothesis of the experiment was that high amount of social interaction that toddlers and chimpanzees get is way higher than orangutans do; therefore, they are more vulnerable to social tendencies and crowd movement. Me, personally, I don’t think that the idea of following the crowd can say anything about social intellect of a person. There is difference between a high school girl who is trying to put make up for the first time of her life because all her friends are doing that already and a kid who is systematically skipping school because his senior friends are doing that. The girl is just experimenting with her sexuality under the influence not only of her friends but mass media and the society in general. She is trying to grow up and fit into the most common role. On the other hand, the kid who is missing the school is likely to be very vulnerable to pure pressure and barely thinking about consequences of his decisions. The following of a crowd can be very useful if a person want to meet more people and get more friends. However, following the crowd should not become “an end in itself”. People can have same tastes in many different areas, having in the same time different perception of the reality and unique individuality.

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