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Researchers warn against being overly influenced by others

Herd mentality
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(NaturalNews) Could the influence of others, and the resulting desire to be part of the "in" crowd, impede the ability to make wise decisions?

After all, associating with popular groups has long-been considered an ideal way to make strides socially as well as professionally. However, people who get wrapped up in this notion should consider themselves warned: Experts have found that the so-called "herd mentality" is linked to an inability to think for oneself, making them less apt to respond to natural changes in their environment.

Researchers from the University of Exeter and Princeton University, and from both the Sorbonne Universities and Institute for Research in Computer Science and Automation in France, have demonstrated how a lack of self-reliance develops when people are influenced by others.(1)

By studying mathematical equations and the evolution of how social information is used in a dynamic environment, the experts ultimately determined that over-reliance on social information leads to an evolution of being very readily influenced by others.

Developing a herd mentality leads to unresponsiveness in the environment

The lead author of the study, University of Exeter's Dr. Colin Torney, said that "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." He adds that adopting a herd mentality and constantly relying others' opinions can become a problem.(2)

He stated, "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 (more) 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."(2)

The study, titled "Social information use and the evolution of unresponsiveness in collective systems," was published in the Royal Society journal Interface.

In the study's abstract, it's explained:

By using a simple model of decision-making in a dynamic environment, we find that when individuals behave rationally and are subject to selection based on their accuracy, optimality of collective decision-making is not attained. Instead, individuals overly rely on social information and evolve to be too readily influenced by their neighbours. This is due to a classic evolutionary conflict between individual and collective interest. The result is a sub-optimal system that is poised on the cusp of total unresponsiveness. Individuals in the evolved group exhibit delayed reactions to changes in the environment, before responding with rapid, socially reinforced transitions....(3)

To avoid herd mentality, develop better sense of self, stand up for beliefs

To escape the herd mentality, it's important for people to develop more self-awareness regarding their likes and dislikes and to engage in thoughts and activities that are in their best interests rather than those of everyone around them. Making decisions and sticking to them is essential as it pertains to individual preferences.

In the case of living a healthy lifestyle, for example, more people seem to be taking a stance against what much of mainstream media and culture suggest. No longer does everyone accept the medical mindset concerning vaccinations, nor do many believe that GMOs are safe.

Such health-conscious people tend to take a stance against mainstream thoughts, sticking to their beliefs and acting in ways that may bring about positive change.


(1) http://www.eurekalert.org

(2) http://www.thealternativedaily.com

(3) http://rsif.royalsocietypublishing.org

About the author:
A science enthusiast with a keen interest in health nutrition, Antonia has been intensely researching various dieting routines for several years now, weighing their highs and their lows, to bring readers the most interesting info and news in the field. While she is very excited about a high raw diet, she likes to keep a fair and balanced approach towards non-raw methods of food preparation as well. >>> Click here to see more by Antonia

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