Bandwagon effect

Societal phenomenon / From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

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The bandwagon effect is the tendency for people to adopt certain behaviors, styles, or attitudes simply because others are doing so.[1] More specifically, it is a cognitive bias by which public opinion or behaviours can alter due to particular actions and beliefs rallying amongst the public.[2] It is a psychological phenomenon whereby the rate of uptake of beliefs, ideas, fads and trends increases with respect to the proportion of others who have already done so.[3] As more people come to believe in something, others also "hop on the bandwagon" regardless of the underlying evidence.

Following others' actions or beliefs can occur because of conformism or deriving information from others. Much of the influence of the bandwagon effect comes from the desire to 'fit in' with peers; by making similar selections as other people, this is seen as a way to gain access to a particular social group.[4] An example of this is fashion trends wherein the increasing popularity of a certain garment or style encourages more acceptance.[5] When individuals make rational choices based on the information they receive from others, economists have proposed that information cascades can quickly form in which people ignore their personal information signals and follow the behaviour of others.[6] Cascades explain why behaviour is fragile as people understand that their behaviour is based on a very limited amount of information. As a result, fads form easily but are also easily dislodged.[citation needed] The phenomenon is observed in various fields, such as economics, political science, medicine, and psychology.[7] In social psychology, people's tendency to align their beliefs and behaviors with a group is known as 'herd mentality' or 'groupthink'.[8] The reverse bandwagon effect (also known as the snob effect in certain contexts) is a cognitive bias that causes people to avoid doing something, because they believe that other people are doing it.[9]