The hipster effect: Why anti-conformists always end up looking the same
The hipster effect is when people who oppose mainstream culture find out that their unique choices are similar to millions of other people. In an attempt to be different, they all end up looking the same.
Similar effects show up among investors and in other areas of the social sciences.
People do not react instantly when something highly fashionable becomes available. The information spreads slowly through online platforms, word of mouth, and so on.
In general, the population of hipsters first act randomly, then go through a phase transition into a synchronized state.
When there are equal proportions of hipsters and conformists, the entire population tends to switch randomly between different trends.
For example, if the majority of individuals shave their beards, then most hipsters will want to grow a beard. If this trend becomes the norm, hipsters will switch to shaving.
Aside from the choice of clothing, there may be important implications in understanding the synchronization of nerve cells, investment strategies in finance, or emergent dynamics in social science.
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