What Causes Us to be Groupish?

I’m sure some of us can remember where we were when the Boston Marathon Bombing happened. I was in my room at UMASS and I was scrolling through Twitter when I saw someone tweet about it. Someone had just set off two bombs near the finish line of the Boston Marathon. I didn’t want to believe it at first but then more and more people kept posting about it. Soon it was everywhere. It was all over the place, you could not turn on your TV or go on social media without seeing it.

Then the Boston Strong slogan came out and it was as if the entire city came together. People had hats, shirts, bracelets, mugs, anything you could put a slogan on that all read “Boston Strong”. There was this pride and strength and sense of community that came from this slogan.This reminded me of how Haidt spoke about how he reacted to 9/11 in chapter . He recalls:
    The 9/11 attacks activated several of these group-related adaptations in my mind. The attacks   turned me into a team player, with a powerful and unexpected urge to display my team’s flag and then do things to support the team, such as giving blood donating money, and yes, supporting the leader (230).
I remember people who weren’t even from Boston were buying Christmas ornaments that said Boston Strong and buying t-shirts and it confused me. I grew up in Boston and lived there for most of my life before moving and I didn’t understand why people who didn’t even care about Boston all of a sudden cared now. I felt like they just wanted to be apart of the hype. Just like Haidt asks, “Were these people acting on selfish motives, or groupish motives?” (230) Do you think people do these things like buying t-shirts and being patriotic as a way to contribute to the group or is it more about them? Can you guys think of any other situations where this happens? (It doesn’t have to be serious events like 9/11 or the Boston Marathon bombings).

Another thing that I think relates to this is the Mike Brown case that has been talked about recently. Michael Brown was an 18 year old boy from St. Louis who was shot and killed by a police officer. He was unarmed and there has been a lot of riots and looting. People have been standing up to the police and the reactions have caused a lot of buzz in the media. I thought about the Hive Switch in Chapter 11 where Haidt says that human beings have the ability (under special conditions) to transcend self-interest and lose themselves in something larger than themselves (258). Although the reaction like looting and rioting are negative why do you think this happens? What triggers that part in us to join others in their actions (positive or negative) when something like this happens?

482 thoughts on “What Causes Us to be Groupish?

  1. There could be many reasons why people are “groupish” but there seems to be one common thread amongst most formulations of groups. The commonality between most groups seems to be that they form under stressful situations, and situations of chaos. Thus making it easier for people to have some sort of control over the situation, or some sense of control, and also something to have faith in. Although riots are not helpful to a cause, they form because people come together with a common idea, and take advantage of chaos to justify their actions.

    • Luigi Raineri says:

      Definitely agree with you there. In a situation where there is a wide range of emotions flowing highly, and groups of like-minded people stick together, it is easy for a small idea to turn into something like looting. One person suggests it, and the whole group follows along. They, sensing they have some control over something in the midst of the chaos, go ahead and strike, following the leader.

  2. Tynayko Melendez says:

    Yes. People like to have that sense of community rather than be/feel alone. The Boston Bombing is a great example of how and why people become groupish. Intuitions play a role when being groupish as well.

  3. Shaqueir Tardif says:

    I agree with you but also disagree with you at the same time Edward. Naturally, human beings do just want to be accepted and to blend in with the crowd. However, there are many people who break away from that curse and choose to stand out dare to challenge other people or ideas. Not everyone is a follower, but I do believe that naturally we all start off following someone or some idea. People have the power and the ability to break that chain and to become a leader that dares to challenge common ideas.

    • Jessica Unubun says:

      I absolutely agree with this. Also to add on to this I believe that a lot of people feed of each others success. That in fact makes us either leaders or followers. When people see others doing better than them that motivates them to be even greater. Once they find that inner voice of their own they now give themselves a way to challenge themselves and others as well.

  4. Nicholas Gentile says:

    The reason why people all flock around large social events weather it be good or bad is because they naturally want to be informed and apart of whats going on. when a new kid moves to a town and starts meeting kids at the school, the firs thing that kid will do is try to find some sort of way to relate and fir into a group. the nation as a whole is the same way. if a large event happens weather it is across the country or in your state, if people are all talking and commenting on it other people will want to be apart of it and join in.

  5. Robert Carlozzi says:

    No matter if its positive or negative, things are accomplished better when we work as a whole.Tragic times persuade us to support or fight for whatever we beleive as a whole. Whether its gathering in t-shirts or a riot, we are persuaded to stand up for what we beleive, especially when it comes to such a large greif caused upon our nation.

    • juan carvajal says:

      i agree that many and most people are better if they work together, because they are able to work together whether it be on taken over the world or a school project. yet believe it or not people are all selfish in very large or small manners. you don’t keep a friend if he hits you or steals from you. you keep a friend who does the opposite. people stay with people who can receive benefits from them. something as simple as gum.

  6. Angela Curtis says:

    Everyone is selfish, you may not notice but that is how humans act. But it is better when people group together. There is a more effect response when people stick together. When the bombing happened the state of Mass became one unit. Even though people far away from Boston were not affected they still sent there prayers to the victims.

  7. Keegan DeVoy says:

    I support the hive theory because people in groups do take each others confidence and allow people to flow easier and be happy, but also has the same purpose for terror. If someone starts screaming and yelling people tend to follow.

  8. Bryce Mitchell says:

    I agree that most people are better off together and come together to be more strong and united but some people are acting on selfish motives. Some people join things such as the boston strong to get together with the whole nation and strive to help with the issue and actually care about the problem at hand. Other are just doing it for attention or for people to think they care about it but they really don’t. Another main thing that contributes to this is “Groupism” and how people generally come together in life.

  9. austin urban says:

    it only takes the minds of few to change the minds of many especial if the ones are in power or superior in any way and are looked up to. it can make ones seem better then others because of physical traits or mental causing a cultural divide

  10. Matthew Millman says:

    While I do agree that people had positive motivations and gentle hearts for coming together during events such as 9/11 and the Boston Marathon Bombings, I don’t agree that everyone had such positive intentions. I think one reason that people from across the country (and perhaps around the world) showed their support of Boston, despite not having any affiliation with the city, was because they wanted to affect their reputation in their community in a positive way and they wanted to gain money. People who could benefit from something like that, include politicians and entrepreneurs. The case of a women from New York comes to mind, who was convicted of collecting $480,000 (as a profit) from a charity called One Fund Boston that was meant to help victims of the bombings. While I do agree that this is a more pessimistic point of view and may describe the minority of people rather than the majority, I do still believe that it is important to keep this in mind.

  11. Raybryana Dasher says:

    Us Humans tend to become “groupish” in times of devastation because we feel a sense of empathy which compels us to act. Although we may not know the nation, person or town personally just due to the simple fact that we are all humans; our emotions cause us to feel responsible. We want to help and give comfort to those in need.This is especially true if it happens in our own country, patriotism begins to rise up within us. We feel as though we need to be loyal to our nation by doing something. Giving help to one another gives us joy, because we know that we assisted someone in their time of need.It is a self rewarding feeling.So coming together to help those in need gives us a feeling of unity and community and people are drawn to feeling apart of something and being united.

  12. Silvia Prado says:

    Even though the Boston Marathon attack was a terrible act against innocent people, the hype of selling things with the slogan, “Boston Strong” engaged thousands of people across the country to come together and support the city of Boston. However, after a while rather than becoming patriotic, it becomes more selfish. Merchandise with the slogan are being sold and people are buying them to feel as if they are apart of what occurred. I’m not saying supporting a good cause is wrong, however, when it reaches the point that if you are not part of the movement you get attacked. You are targeted for being the outcast, the person who is not with the movement and believes that it is not a good cause.
    Overall, I believe supporting the Boston Marathon attack is a good cause, but to be part of the movement you don’t have to be wearing a Boston Strong t-shirt. Not everyone has to know what you are doing, it’s part of being an individual and doing your own thing.

  13. Arjun Banerjee says:

    People will naturally come together in times of crisis. This can be seen through various events in history. A specific event of time would be World War 2. Preparation and engagement in the war resulted in the United States becoming as close together as it might ever be. Everything was about the war effort and winning the war. You had the whole country doing little and big things to help, whether it be saving all of your scrap metal for bullets, or working in a factory that manufactured them. Almost everyone did their own part to help us return from crisis. Our country was one.

    • Fiifi Bondzie says:

      Just to add to Arjun’s argument, we can also use the Civil War as an example. It was an event which showed how extreme people would go to keep their beliefs. Basically, the South saw slavery as a natural selection/ survival of the fittest because they deemed themselves superior and wanted to keep this viewpoint so they grouped together in order to preserve slavery.

  14. Tevin Afonseca says:

    Deep down people are afraid of being alone. Probably one of our biggest fears are being left all alone.Trying to join as many groups as possible to prevent any possibility of truest fear from coming true. Deep down everyone really wants to be part of a group to feel as if they belong somewhere, so they can have that comfortably and happiness that they so long for.

  15. Daniel Quilliam says:

    I think that people group because it is a natural reaction to dangers. So in the case of the Boston bombings people banded together to try and show how we will not stand for these thing and that no one will deal with them happening. In the case of he riots I think it is because people feel that the police who shot the boy were wrong and therefore hey have to stand up to that “system” by destroying things they perceive as part of the “system”.

  16. Jacob Schell says:

    Groups are a necessary to human life it helps us get hard tasks done which we wouldn’t be able to get done alone and helps us find solutions to some of the hardest problems. Humans are also very social creatures and would have trouble living alone without another human to interact with. This is why groups are a necessary part to human nature.

  17. Jacob Adriano says:

    I feel as if people banned together after these tragedies because they didn’t want to look like they did not care about what happened. When these people joined these groups and began using sayings such as “Boston Strong” they felt like they were making a difference by showing support which I’m sure helped those who were directly affected by these tragedies.

  18. Matthew Pereira says:

    I agree with Tevin. People are afraid of being alone, especially when tragedies like the Boston Marathon attack happen. At the same time, many people do feel good about themselves and good in general by contributing to certain causes with the intent to help others. And I do understand that some might see it as a better idea to support the cause without declaring it to everybody with your clothing and other merchandise. It does appear a bit vain sometimes. The point, however, of spreading slogans and colors and things to represent the issue is to raise awareness in an attempt to increase the public’s contribution. I’m sure there are people who exploit this and are motivated to act out of greed, cashing in on the sudden rush of patriotism or whatever it may be, but I don’t believe that the majority of people fall into this category.

  19. John Roche says:

    I believe that a traumatic or major event either with a whole city or even within a small town causes grouping. A specific event that involves a lot of people causes a domino effect that leads people to work and join together to recover and achieve the greatest outcome. Such as the Boston marathon with Boston Strong. That drew so many towns and cities and people together and was “grouping” everyone together.

  20. Christina White says:

    People are groupish because they don’t want to be left out, or they feel like they have something to give to the group to help them out. Haidt asks the question, “Were these people acting on selfish motives, or groupish motives?” (230). I personally think that depending on the situation and the person, it could be either selfish motives or groupish motives. With the big tragedies, such as 9/11, Boston Marathon Bombing, or the Newtown school shooting, we as humans tend to want to know what’s going on. Some people are just curious because they care and some people just want to get into the drama. The people just wanting to be a part of the drama, be like everyone else for social status or the perception others will have on them, are just selfish motives. Sometimes people are just curious because they care or they want to help people out and support the families of victims. Believe it or not, but not everyone in this world has bad motives. Some people have big hearts and just want to help others out. Another reason is that some people know what it’s like to have things go terrible in their own lives and people helped them through it, so they want to pass on the kindness of people helping others; that I believe is for group motives.

    When talking about 9/11, Haidt says that, “The attacks turned me into a team player, with a powerful and unexpected urge to display my team’s flag and then do things to support the team, such as giving blood, donating money, and yes supporting the leader” (230). Yes, after a tragedy people want to help out, but some people only help out others or donate to these causes when something terrible happens, not just to help out at random times when people are in need. I think those people could be helping out the group, but they have to be reminded of all the ways you can help people only when something terrible happens. I believe that people should want to help people of the group and for groupish motives all the time and think of ways to help on their own. That would be the best way to tell if peoples intentions are for the group or not.

  21. Meghan says:

    I believe what triggers us to join others in their actions is that we all want to be a part of something. In an incident like the Michael Brown shooting, the desire to become part of a group is persuaded by the fear of being an outcast. Although the actions exhibited during these riots were dramatic, many can not help but join because they know that they may appear as an enemy of the movement. In short, the situation just becomes a game of follow the leader. One very violent game that is.

  22. Brianna says:

    I feel that people are groupish because they do not want to feel alone in something they believe in or feel is moral; they need to feel that their opinion is right and so they search for others’ similar beliefs to rely on as their support. If people didn’t have others that felt the same way, they would probably reconsider their opinion or belief as a means to conform more towards the popular belief. There are also people out there that search to be different from the norms of society and so they intentionally break out of the popular belief and create new elements of beliefs that are sometimes far fetched, such as Satanism. Atheists may also be an example of this, but they do have a support system of logical reasoning.

  23. Matt Cronin says:

    The behavior that people display in cases such as the Michael Brown incident all relate back to conformity. Although many people may be upset by such incidents but would not take it to the extent of looting or other destructive behavior that will not support the cause. As humans we feel we have strength in numbers there fore it would be natural to come together in times of hardship and fear.

  24. Chris Milona says:

    People decide to be groupish and join in activities because they want to feel like they are a part of something bigger than themselves. They also want to fit in with the norm, so they do what they see people around them doing. This makes people happy to be a part of something.

  25. Andrew Amado says:

    At the end of the day, people just want to be normal! If the norm is looting and rioting, people will continue. If it’s being patriotic, people will continue. it doesn’t matter what it is as long as it’s normal.

  26. I agree with you Edward completely and it has always astonished me how people could become so involved in something that once meant absolutely nothing to them. The notion that people invest so much time and effort into these groupish activities either because of selfish reasons or for the better cause of the group itself is a highly debatable topic. I believe everyone is different and while some might follow the hype for the truthful betterment of the group itself I assume many other people just do these things to look more virtuous or even more rebellious in the eyes of others.

  27. I think its a mix of a sense of belonging as well as “the norms” of society. I would say that its also a mix of people simply identifying themselves with people of their own race or culture and people of similar political and social beliefs. Being “groupish” isn’t necesarrily a bad thing, since it allows people to be comfortable in a group of people, but similarly, it could also limit our exposure to new cultures and social variety.

  28. Kalvin Silva says:

    In my opinion I believe that people naturally group themselves, a lot of times its unnoticed and at other times its very obvious. Some examples of this would be with sports. The hockey kids stay together and that also goes for many other sports like baseball ect. Another example of this that’s a little more obvious is how colored students tend to sit with other colored students in predominantly white schools.

  29. Andrew Pereira says:

    Being part of a group makes you feel more confident, rather than being by yourself. Even being along side one other person will boost you confidence compared to when you are alone. When you are alone you feel judged and excluded, and it is hard to join a group or talk to others and try to make friends. Especially when you come to a new environment everyone feels just as awkward as you do. So if you are able to join up with a couple of other people it will make you feel more comfortable around others in the long run.

  30. Jonathan Bekele says:

    The idea of being a part of a crowd actually resembles the hive theory, people want to be accepted and using things that make people come together creates a atmosphere where all are welcome such as the marathon bombings anyone could support it didnt matter what race or ethnicity or which city you were from all were welcome to help heal the wounds that the city of Boston felt and thats exactly what happened but being groupish is not a bad thing. At the end of the day with all those people coming together it showed that anything is possible if people put their mind to it, and now this city is reborn.

  31. Reblogged this on bsimas and commented:
    People will group together for similar causes. During a murder people understand that it brings a lot of pain to the people the death effects. Humans like to share their emotions and try to help others during times of pain.

  32. Christina Hoang says:

    Humans like to be together as a group no matter the situation. It is the practice of being as one together and to be stronger than being alone. Which is why it doesn’t matter the reason to be together, people come together for any reason like a concert, or a sport event.

  33. Daisia Coren says:

    Whether its selfish or a part of being groupish I think when people join together to support or stand up for something at the end of the day its for a good cause. I think people naturally come together when there is a catastrophe.

  34. Steven Celestino says:

    The reason why people are so “groupish” is because no one wants to be the odd one out. We always talk about individuality and being yourself, but in reality we all fit in to a group, and want to be in a group that we can be comfortable. Some people are just better than others at making friends, but even the people who have trouble still try.

  35. Shari Flanders says:

    When I read this post and you started asking about if we can find other situations this happens in, and immediately my mind went straight to a single person conversation. I used social media… a lot, and although I haven’t checked twitter as often lately, I tend to read things people tweet and (sometimes) without actually replying to them, I’ll think about what I’ve read and just take the time to analyze it. The point I’m trying to get at is, the other day I saw a girl on my twitter feed, tweeting about how everyone was so stupid and such a “follower” for hoping on the Kony 2012 band wagon. Now if you don’t know what I’m talking about, simply search Kony 2012 in the search bar on Youtube, watch the entire video if you have the time and energy, but it was launched in order to get people to think that they could stop this man (Kony) from making children soldiers. It was later proclaimed to be a sort of hoax that would be taking money from people. What upset me about this girls comment (other than I was one of these “band wagoners”) was that she’s annoying with people for caring. There as been so many terrible things happening in the world, and so if people want to suddenly take some sort of interest in wanting to help, shouldn’t we be praising them rather than pushing them down? I mean, sure there will be the few that are only in it for the attention or the “retweets” but so what? Does it really matter? Even those people are useful because they cause awareness, real or not. I thought it was amazing seeing how quickly so many people wanted to help, it reassured the hope I have in humanity, unfortunately the cause wasn’t correct, but that doesn’t mean the people weren’t as well.

  36. MaKenzie DeVoll says:

    When something tragic happens in one’s life it’s instinct to cling to the ones around you for support. This past year a friend of mine passed away and our whole senior class was severely affected by it and immediately everyone came together to support each other and be there for one another no matter what friend group we were previously in because we were all experience that same feeling of grief so it became a lot easier to connect on a personal level with one another. But as great as it is that everyone steps up to support one another, there are also people who use that tragic event to seek attention in the wrong way. I agree with what Haidt says, during this time at my school there were people who claimed to be best friends with that person when they had actually made fun of him which almost became insulting to everyone who was really close to him. Tragic situations either bring out the best or the worst in people and you can truly see who they are as a person.

  37. corrinnjusell says:

    i find that the groupish nature is has been a part of our culture sece the dawn of time. Humans have always found reasons to band together either for survival or just coming together to do something bigger then them selves.

  38. Emike Momodu says:

    I find it is difficult to decide whether people act on selfish motives or groupish motives. Once a movement starts,such as in the case of the Boston marathon, people feel the need to be included. Often people use the excuse of “helping out” to explain their selfish motives and turn them into groupish ones. However, there are some individuals who are genuinely concerned about the situation and want to help out.

  39. Nikayla Simpson says:

    There are power in numbers. People tend to feel more powerful and or comfortable being surrounded by people who share the same beliefs as they do. Groups, common beliefs, and common enemies are what i believe to be the quickest and easiest ways people come together.

  40. Dashaya Toney says:

    While most people’s motives were pure and kindhearted after the Boston Marathon tragedy, I believe that some people did, in fact, contribute to the cause out of selfish reasons. These people didn’t all necessarily gain something out of it other than feeding their self-importance by knowing that they did something good.

  41. Derek Scalzi says:

    I believe that all people have a desire whether conscious or not to fit in and belong to a group. Even in palaeolithic times humans formed groups and tribes and punishment for harming the group was to be exiled, left abandoned and alone. I think the reason that events such as 9/11 cause a strength in the sense of unity in a group is because humans typically are compassionate and recognize individuals in distress even if actions to assist are not always made. So because of this, when the group is affected negatively people rally to show their support because they recognize the harm caused and want to belong to the group and supporting the group or cause gives them that sense of belonging.

  42. Joel Niles says:

    Everyone wants to be apart of a group. Most people look for conformation from those around them to make decisions because they don’t want to be different from the societal norm. When tragedy strikes and the story is all over the news help efforts will gain a lot of support because more people know and care about the problem. More importantly the reason why people actually became “Boston Strong” after the marathon is because their peers were. Another example of people joining a cause because of the media is the ALS ice bucket challenge. A lot of the people doing the challenge don’t even know what ALS is but they do the challenge to help raise awareness because there friends are doing it. In conclusion people just want to be apart of something.

  43. Cameo Lobo says:

    I feel people act selfish and groupish when it comes to certain situations. I wore Boston Strong shirts because i wanted to support the people of Boston. I meant to wear it in no selfish way but instead for the group and my donation to go towards the city of Boston. I’m from Massachusetts and i know people that have been there that day, and people want nothing more than to just help. If it takes buying shirts and and wearing boston strong bracelets to do so, then people will. But people do also act selfish when situations like these occur. They want to show that they care and kind of use it to get attention. That day all over instagram was boston strong, and all the likes that came with them. The people that posted those pics didnt just do it for boston but also just for attention. I could literally pick out the people that posted the pics for the support of boston and the people that posted them for likes.

  44. Courtney Draper says:

    People need to come together at a time of weakness to know things will be okay. People usually act compassionate and recognize individuals in distress even if nothings changing. I think thats its really good all the support we give each other at moments of weakness,

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s