Saturday evening – I log into my FB. I see a string of posts of forgotten friends – holidaying in some distant land, kitchen hacks, motivational videos and all. I see some sponsored messages – and out of curiosity I click on an image. It takes me to a page filled with beautiful sarees and when I click on one, it talks about how only one piece is left – and what others bought when they purchased this product. After a few seconds – I come out of that portal and now notice that some of my other friends “like” that portal.
My thoughts as I do all this – why does FB keep telling me what others like? Why do online portals tell me what their best sellers are? Why does Amazon have a complete category of best sellers of the day? And like one of my friends asked me at the Mumbai airport last night – why do we stand in queue for boarding when we know we can board at our convenience.
In psychology, we call this – herd mentality, bandwagon effect or “the wisdom of crowds”. In short – it means the rate of adoption of a certain belief or idea is directly proportional to the number of people adopting it. In other words – the increasing popularity of an idea makes it more believable to others. Essentially, as humans we want to conform to an existing idea. If someone else has done it – and if more others seem to be doing it – I will too.
This may occur more frequently than you think. For example – Mr. Gupta and his family go out for dinner – the family spots two restaurants on either ends of the road. Both look appealing. Mrs. Gupta says she wants to go and pick up some vegetables before stepping into either of the restaurants. By the time they get back – Restaurant ‘A’ has more customers then restaurant ‘B’. Gupta family decides to choose restaurant ‘A’ because having more customers make it look more popular. Because other passers-by do the same thing into the evening – restaurant “A” does more business that night than ‘B’. This phenomenon is also called information cascade. Because – we believe in the wisdom of others.
It can be traced back to animals running in herds from the predator. Each individual animal reduces the danger to itself by moving as close as possible to the centre of the group.
With the rise of social media – this psychology of ours – to see wisdom in majority – is becoming more harmful than useful, more alarming than “happening”. Do we really examine a concept in its own merit? Do you often see yourself looking at things from a majority lens? There are full-fledged organisations running businesses using this psychology – I am sure you are smart enough to figure these organisations out.
In “wisdom of crowds” – You might be missing out on a lot of good things like saving more and not buying unnecessary stuff, read a book which impacts you profoundly and not because it is a best seller, buy a stock which has inherent value and not because it has traded more today.
I know – you will say – easier said than done. But try it – next time you wait for boarding a flight – grab a chair and sit down – spend a couple of minutes. You will catch yourself looking at the queue every couple of seconds – and your watch the next minute. It is tough to move away from what’s ingrained in our neural network for ages – but it’s time we did this. One step at a time.
Try out our game based app – to know more about yourself – your strengths, your weaknesses and your potential. Write to me – firstname.lastname@example.org
And do register for the certification program – on how to use Game based assessments. There are some early bird offers and I will have them sent to you if you register in the next three days.
We will certainly announce the dates soon.
Hope you have a great weekend.