What is the Herd Effect or Bandwagon Effect

What is the Herd Effect or Bandwagon Effect

“The eyes of others are our prisons, their thoughts our cages.”Virginia Woolf

Imagine you go with a friend walking through the city center, looking for your usual cafeteria. After crossing a corner, you find a new cafeteria that serves a similar coffee, but whose door is full of a huge queue of people. Automatically, your friend points to the queue and you follow him. "What are we doing here?" Questions. "I don't know, but if there are so many people it will be that this coffee is better."

The behavior just described is a clear example of bandwagon effect, also known as "herd effect" or "fashion effect".


  • 1 What is the Bandwagon Effect?
  • 2 Why does the Bandwagon Effect happen?
  • 3 Who is affected by the bandwagon effect?
  • 4 What problems can the bandwagon effect generate for the individual?

What is the Bandwagon Effect?

The bandwagon effect, is a psychological theory according to which individuals adopt ideas or behaviors by the mere fact that a large majority of people have previously done so, even though these decisions clash with their own beliefs or reasoning.

East cognitive bias It can manifest itself daily in areas such as consumer behavior, fashion or politics. A clear example of this is the individual tendency that exists at the time of changing the vote towards those electoral candidates who score highest in the polls, to feel that we are on the “winning side”.

The concept "bandwagon effect"Began to be used during the nineteenth century in the United States, referring to the attraction caused by election candidates who used floats full of music and fun in street parades and made people literally"get in the car”. (Bandwagon, translated into Spanish: car).

Why does the Bandwagon Effect happen?

The effect that group norms they have a pressure on each one of us that is difficult to fight against. The need for join the group makes our behavior adapt to their tendencies with the objective of be accepted and not stay out of it.

We all want to belong to the group of “winners”, we know that it is difficult to be the stranger in a demanding society and we fight against the implications that this would entail, adopting behaviors that, although they may be far from our values ​​and even our reasoning, make us Easier adaptation to the group.

The linked video shows a clear example of how group pressure can exert such influence on our decisions. Is the famous Asch experiment, designed to study to what extent we can get carried away by the opinion of others, rather than ours.

In this classic experiment, a group of people had to decide something as simple as what line among several presented he owned the Same size that one original line. The problem arose when the participants watched as the rest of the group gave a wrong answer unanimously. What the participant was not aware of is that the rest of the group was made up of actors who tried to confuse him by providing an incorrect answer.

The results are a clear example of the power of group pressure: at least 75% of the participants chose the wrong answer that the rest of the group had chosen, despite the obvious error.

Who is affected by the bandwagon effect?

No one is exempt from being affected by the bandwagon effect, even those who consciously work to maintain an independent way of life, end up adopting daily attitudes that could be said to be influenced by the group effect.

Imagine that we are going to a fruit shop in which they sell two types of strawberries and are so similar that we do not know which of the two to decide. A huge queue of people goes shopping always choosing the same type of strawberry. Most likely, when our turn comes, we opt for the product that everyone is choosing, even if we don't know exactly why they do it.

What problems can the bandwagon effect generate for the individual?

This way of acting has certain positive consequences for our group survival and can relate to concepts such as prudence and adaptability, but sometimes, group pressure can lead us to commit unreasonable acts and decisions, which may even clash with our most basic reasoning.

From making bad economic or unethical decisions, to carrying out unhealthy lifestyles, for example, letting ourselves be carried away by aesthetic fashions or impossible diets, the consequences of the bandwagon effect can also cause serious problems in the quality of life of people.

But it's so easy "get in the car" how "get off him”And this is in fact what makes fashions usually last a short time and are so changing. It is important to start asking ourselves why we act as we do and if there is an outside influence that may be leading us to adopt unreasonable behaviors. If the answer is yes, it is time to start working for strengthen our independence and get create a Own criterion based on more beneficial values.