The Herd Mentality

“Herd mentality, mob mentality and pack mentality, also lesser known as gang mentality, describes how people can be influenced by their peers to adopt certain behaviors on a largely emotional, rather than rational, basis.”

I lifted the above definition from the internet, but here is where the this becomes interesting: Studies have shown that it only takes 5% of a “crowd” to influence the behaviors of the other 95%. This is counterintuitive meaning that one would expect that the majority of a group influences the behavioral patterns of the minority. Apparently not.

Let’s turn our attention to the “herd mentality” and weight control efforts. Take this scenario: You are out of town at a work convention and gather with a bunch of work colleagues for dinner. Drink orders are being taken, bread baskets are brought to the table and at the end of the dinner, desserts are ordered.

If you were alone, the chances are much higher that you would be able to “just say no” to the ordering of the derailing food and drink sources. However, the “herd mentality” would markedly increase the chances that you would follow other people’s lead and partake of the festivities. Additionally, as documented in the above studies, it may only take a few of the attendees to start the food fest to then influence the behaviors of others.

How best to avoid the pitfalls of the “herd mentality” when this refers to your long-term weight control efforts? The first step is to recognize this instinctual-like behavior and consciously avoid falling into the trap. You clearly have control of your own behavior patterns and unlike cows or wildebeests, you have a higher functioning brain that can avert the “herd mentality”.

Nataliya P Serotonin-Plus Counselor

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