Beware, unseen dynamics in play!
Most of us like to think of ourselves as freethinking individuals. People who make intelligent decisions based on our beliefs. Although this may be true to some extent, there are other factors to consider.
Studies have shown a change in behavioral dynamics when more than one person is present. Example: You see a person fall on the street. You are very likely to go to their assistance. If two or three people are present, you will likely wait to see what the others will do.
One term for this is herd mentality.
Herd mentality definition Urban Dictionary:
The inability or refusal to listen to one’s own instinct or ‘gut feeling’ but to instead follow the majority for fear of being wrong, ostracized or ridiculed
Researchers at Leeds University, led by Prof Jens Krause, performed a series of experiments where volunteers were told to randomly walk around a large hall without talking to each other. A select few were then given more detailed instructions on where to walk. The scientists discovered that people end up blindly following one or two people who appear to know where they’re going.
The published results showed that it only takes 5% of what the scientists called “informed individuals” to influence the direction of a crowd of around 200 people. The remaining 95% follow without even realizing it.i
It is important to watch your step. There are unseen dynamics all around us. Think of the influence of social media. Does the number of likes on a particular post affect you? Do you stop to consider the material before joining the crowd? Could it be that you assumed it good or true because everyone likes it.
Then there is the emotion stirring, inflammatory, or sensational. Do you check to see if the material is true before sharing? Or did you merely assume its validity?
Often a stamp of approval by a considered expert is all one needs. After all, this site or those people are recognized leaders.
Consider news reports. Does the number of stations reporting the same thing influence you? Their statements communicated with strong, if not absolute certainty as to their fact.
Now consider the implications of this in your Christian walk. How much have you adopted as your own because of upbringing or friends beliefs? How many times have you passively accepted something based on the influence of a person or group?
A bias can set us up to follow the herd also. A bias is a particular tendency or inclination, especially one that prevents unprejudiced consideration of a question; prejudice. We may unquestioningly follow others with the same bias.
Watch out for agendas! A bias can set us up to follow an agenda. Rallying the troops for a cause using a bias is an easy way to move a herd. One only needs to look at the use of religion by political machines to see an example of this.
Herd mentality can blind us. It will also bind us, keeping us from following the leading of the Holy Spirit. It leaves us feeling safe and secure. After all, look how many others are moving along the same path.
It is important to take time out.
Step out from the crowd regularly to make sure you are following the Shepherd and not the herd.
*For a free on-line school, free PDF books written by Barb and more information on walking and living in the Spirit go to Midway Ministries