Social Mood Conference  |  Socionomics Foundation

By Alan Hall | Excerpted from the January 2017 Socionomist


In The Wave Principle of Human Social Behavior, Robert Prechter observed that many animals “herd, flock, school and swarm, including fish, insects such as ants and bees, birds, many grazing mammals and apparently, humans.” In Elliott Wave Principle, Prechter and A.J. Frost said that the individuality of a droplet of water might be evident under a microscope, but as part of an ocean wave, the droplet is “swept along with the force of the waves and the tides.”

A September 2016 paper on the group behavior of fish provides further evidence for the loss of individuality that occurs in such settings. Read more below.

In the 2003 animated movie Finding Nemo, a baby clownfish named Nemo swims away from home, takes phenomenal risks, has amazing adventures and, of course, survives. Nemo’s exciting and risky behavior helped make Finding Nemo the best-selling DVD of all time. But that was a cartoon, and Nemo was definitely not herding, or schooling, as fish do. …

That brings us to the question: Do individuals behave the same when they are alone as they do in social settings? For people, the answer is “no.” But what about animals such as fish? …

New evidence in a September 2016 paper, titled “Consensus and experience trump leadership, suppressing individual personality during social foraging,” suggests fish also behave differently in social settings than they do when swimming solo. …

The team of researchers at the University of Bristol’s School of Biological Sciences caught eighty of the UK’s smallest freshwater fish, the three-spined stickleback, placed them in aquarium tanks and tested the fish individually and in groups of ten as the fish risked venturing from safe cover to cross an open area to reach food. The authors observed both leaders and followers among the fish, but they found that “the individual personalities of fish were lost when in a group [and] the fish stuck together when making a risky decision.” …


 

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