Many of you have probably heard of the bandwagon effect. I am very familiar on this effect because of one of my favorite college sports teams, UVA. I am a huge UVA fan because I grew up ten minutes away from the campus. This effect was shown in this year’s UVA basketball teams “fans”. The UVA basketball team had a huge regular season this past year. They ended up ACC regular season champs, and eventually going on to win the ACC tournament. At the end of regular season they were even the top seeded team going into March Madness. This eventually changed when they chocked against UMBC in the first round (and they really chocked). There were many people that were rooting for them, while some were for real reasons (myself included). Most were just fans because of the success the team was having. When looking at really good consistent sports teams you will see this. For example, Alabama football and the Patriots program. We as humans are competitive and want to win. We don’t want to be rooting for a team that sucks.This brings in more money for these programs as well, so gives them an even bigger advantage. This is why these great programs get these fans, doesn’t have to do with the players on the team, has to do with the win to loss ratio and the amount of championships won. These are the fans that demonstrate the bandwagon effect. So once UVA lost in the first round, these fans went to become fans for the team they felt was the next best.
The bandwagon effect is described as a psychological phenomenon in which people do something primarily because other people are doing it, regardless of their own beliefs, which they may ignore or override. This has to do a lot with social psychology, but this is an error we have as humans. We want to conform to the norm because don’t want to be unique. For example, let’s say you go to a liberal school, you as a conservative may jump and take the views from the opposing side to fit in with the crowd. This may even make you think that your view is “wrong”. This effect is very big in politics. This was shown by a study in which they gave random people an article on an election from a made-up German town. After they read the article they were asked who they would vote for; there was a one group that received a made up poll where they had one candidate up by a big amount and the other group was told that same candidate was losing. The 765 participants always seemed to want the candidate that was winning. This shows that everyone follows the crowd. This is crucial for US politics because there are many bandwagon voters. This is why it is important that news sites show fair polls and not biased ones. This is because they can swing voters, bandwagon voters, to vote for the candidate that has the biggest support. This is hurtful for the country because these voters aren’t voting for candidates morals and plans, but on popularity. The popularity contests that you had in elementary school are sadly still relevant as you get older. There are some positive things that are associated with the bandwagon effect. For example when supporting a good cause, the amount of people that are supporting for example cancer research may have you join in and donate. The bandwagon effect is also relevant for business because this is how trends get started, you want your product to be popular because will bandwagon other to purchase it. I am sure a lot of you remember this from certain trends like silly bands, UGG boots, and so much more. So the next time your teacher asks you to raise your hand on something you believe in, in class, raise your hand based on what you actually believe. Don’t raise your hand based on how many kids are raising their hands. Not “following the crowd” is extremely hard to do, but this could slowly not only change your life but also lives to come.