Study proves 95% of people really are sheeple

Posted on January 26, 2012

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A new research study sheds light on a behavior that is consistent among many species – that is, making decisions based upon the actions of others.

Scientists at the University of Leeds believe they may have found why humans flock like sheep and birds, subconsciously following a minority of individuals.

Researchers discovered that it takes a minority of just five per cent to influence a crowd’s direction – and that the other 95 per cent follow without realizing it.

The findings could have major implications for directing the flow of large crowds, in particular in disaster scenarios, where verbal communication may be difficult.

“There are many situations where this information could be used to good effect,” says Professor Jens Krause of the University’s Faculty of Biological Sciences.

“At one extreme, it could be used to inform emergency planning strategies and at the other, it could be useful in organising pedestrian flow in busy areas.”

Professor Krause, with PhD student John Dyer, conducted a series of experiments where groups of people were asked to walk randomly around a large hall. Within the group, a select few received more detailed information about where to walk. Participants were not allowed to communicate with one another but had to stay within arms length of another person.

The findings show that in all cases, the ‘informed individuals’ were followed by others in the crowd, forming a self-organizing, snake-like structure.

“We’ve all been in situations where we get swept along by the crowd,” says Professor Krause. “But what’s interesting about this research is that our participants ended up making a consensus decision despite the fact that they weren’t allowed to talk or gesture to one another. In most cases the participants didn’t realize they were being led by others.”

PsychCentral

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