Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Herd mentality: Are we programmed to make bad decisions?

On the other hand, there are people who act contrary to the crowd, not because they are acting according to reality, but simply for the sake of being contrary. That is also damaging to the ability to make the right decisions.



Contact: Press Office
University of Exeter
Herd mentality: Are we programmed to make bad decisions?

A natural desire to be part of the 'in crowd' could damage our ability to make the right decisions, a new study has shown.

Research led by the University of Exeter has shown that individuals have evolved to be overly influenced by their neighbours, rather than rely on their own instinct. As a result, groups become less responsive to changes in their natural environment.


Lead author of the report, Dr Colin Torney, from the University of Exeter's Mathematics department explained: "Social influence is a powerful force in nature and society.

"Copying what other individuals do can be useful in many situations, such as what kind of phone to buy, or for animals, which way to move or whether a situation is dangerous.

"However, the challenge is in evaluating personal beliefs when they contradict what others are doing. We showed that evolution will lead individuals to over use social information, and copy others too much than they should.

"The result is that groups evolve to be unresponsive to changes in their environment and spend too much time copying one another, and not making their own decisions. "


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