How does the herd instinct work and why is it difficult to resist it
Categories: SocietyBy Pictolic https://pictolic.com/en/article/how-does-the-herd-instinct-work-and-why-is-it-difficult-to-resist-it
The herd instinct is a brilliant invention of nature, which she has given to many living organisms. Man is no exception — he sometimes acts more strongly on us than on less organized beings, and at the same time it is not always appropriate. Nothing can be done about it, because this mechanism is built in us for the most important goal-survival. How does this natural security system work from a psychological point of view?
In the prehistoric era, the herd sense perfectly complemented the human instinct for self-preservation. Without it, it was impossible to survive — in the inhospitable primeval world, the loner was doomed to destruction. A group of people could more effectively detect danger and repel it, and it was also easier to get food together.
It is on this principle that animals are united in herds and flocks — a representative of the community always has a better chance to save the life of himself and his offspring. Now, when a person does not need to make fire and hide from predators, it would be quite logical to get rid of the herd instinct, but it is still firmly seated in us and we, as well as tens of thousands of years ago, need the company of our own kind. Psychologist Olga Romaniv told reporters why this happens.
The process of evolution could not but affect the basic instincts and man gradually moved away from the herd in the direction of individuality. There was no need to defend against the saber-toothed tigers, and the man was less and less willing to consider himself a part of the pack. We have become individuals, and some consider themselves even a "lone wolf", but it is still not possible to completely erase the herd feeling from themselves.
The herd feeling is based on two components — the fear of being left alone and the desire to get someone's approval. Most modern people feel the need to belong to some kind of community or group. Few people seek to defend their point of view and go against society — it is easier to accept public opinion, often just on faith. At the same time, the more supporters the point of view has, the easier it is to join it without weighty arguments.
It is often heard that the herd feeling is called the "law of the five percent". The thing is that there is an iron rule — if five percent of a community together perform a certain action, the rest will join them. A good example of this law is a herd of horses. If a few animals are afraid of something and run, the rest will not hesitate to rush after them, even if they themselves did not smell anything.
The herd sense is developed in all different ways. Some need the approval of the community more strongly, while others are weaker. This depends on factors such as the presence of an individual's critical thinking and emotional intelligence. They give us the opportunity to critically perceive other people's judgments, question other people's opinions, analyze the situation and draw our own conclusions.
But does it always help in life? If you consider situations such as a natural disaster, a rally, or a crowd of people in the subway during rush hour, then even the most developed critical thinking will not help you avoid the influence of the crowd. Moreover, in such cases, the chance of survival is significantly increased for those who joined the general mass.
A person who resists the crowd can simply be swept away, crushed, and trampled. In the event of danger in a large mass of people, internal deterrent mechanisms, logical thinking and a clear awareness of what is happening are disabled. The crowd turns into a single living organism, and almost uncontrollable.
To break out of this mass, you need to have an iron willpower, a high level of intelligence, or a particularly well-developed instinct for self-preservation. There are only a few such people in the crowd, and the rest will move with the crowd, following its wild will. This is because in an extreme situation, a person simply does not have time to assess the risks and analyze the degree of danger and the surrounding environment.
People follow the example of the majority, thus relieving themselves of the lion's share of responsibility for their safety. To cope with yourself in such situations, psychologists recommend learning to deal with stress and master your emotions. Only with such training can you maintain the ability to think clearly and act separately from the crowd in a critical situation.