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The hipster effect: Why anti-conformists always end up looking the same

The hipster effect

The hipster effect

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.

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The hipster effect: Why anti-conformists always end up looking the same

The hipster effect: Why anti-conformists always end up looking the same

https://www.technologyreview.com/s/613034/the-hipster-effect-why-anti-conformists-always-end-up-looking-the-same/

technologyreview.com

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Key Ideas

The hipster effect

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.

Delayed reaction

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.

Synchronization

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.

The important role of hipsters

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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The bandwagon effect

It's a cognitive bias that causes people to think or act in a certain manner because they believe that other people are doing the same.

For example, the bandwagon effect might cause...

Examples of the bandwagon effect
  • The bandwagon effect can influence people’s political choices.
  • It can influence consumers’ decisions regarding which products to buy.
  • It can influence users’ decisions regarding how to rate stories or comments.
  • It can influence investors’ financial choices.
  • It can influence doctors’ medical decisions.
  • It can influence organizations’ implementation of new technologies.
Why the bandwagon effect happens

It serves as a mental shortcut that people instinctively use in order to make a decision quickly.

Specifically, bandwagon cues, which are signs that other people believe something or are doing something, can trigger the thought that “if other people like this, then I should too”.

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Ego Depletion
Ego Depletion

Ego depletion happens when people use up their available willpower on one task.

We all have natural urges, desires, and tendencies that demand attention. When we curb those ...

Self Control

People having a high level of self-control experience better relationships and have higher achievement levels. Lack of self-control is associated with social conflict and low-grade academic performance.

Example: While following a diet regime, a person spends a lot of willpower the whole day trying to avoid junk food, but by the end of the day, all his mental energy has been exhausted, and there is no self-control left, resulting in snacking on unhealthy food.

Causes of Ego Depletion

Many emotional and physical factors contribute to ego depletion, like:

  • Emotional distress
  • Struggling to learn something new
  • Mental fatigue due to anxiety
  • Low levels of blood sugar
  • Too much choice
  • Conflicting beliefs and actions (cognitive dissonance)
  • Heart Rate
  • Hormonal imbalance
  • Being young and immature.

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Social norms

People tend to conform to behaviors that are common among other people, even when they know that those people did not make their choices freely, and when the decision does not mirror their own desi...

Common reasons for conforming
  • One common explanation: we that if everyone else is choosing to do one thing, it is probably a good thing to do.
  • Another common explanation: we fear that failing to follow a norm may have negative social consequences.
The self-categorization theory

The idea of the self-categorization theory is that people conform to the norms of certain social groups whenever they have a personal desire to feel like they belong.

It is irrelevant whether a norm reflects people's preference, as long as the behavior is associated with the group.

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Creating quantitative models
Creating quantitative models

Most of the psychological theories are verbal, but words can be imprecise. If "cooperation is intuitive", it needs to state when. And what does "intuitive" mean?

In order to solve this, compu...

The Sims computer simulation

These models represent collections of individual people described by computer algorithms that capture a specific set of traits, such as a tendency to cooperate or not.

  • You can give them new personalities to see how they would behave.
  • You can observe social processes in action.
  • You can observe time scales, from seconds to generations.
  • You can watch the spread of certain behaviors throughout a population and you can see how certain behaviors influence other behaviors.

The patterns that emerge can tell you things about large-scale social interaction that lab experiments and real people never could.

The human instinct to cooperate

There seems to be evolutionary logic to the human ability to cooperate but adjust if necessary. To trust, but verify. 

We generally collaborate with other people because it benefits us. Our rational minds let us work out when we might occasionally gain by acting selfishly instead.

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The Stages of Change
  1. Precontemplation: Not ready. Not now.
  2. Contemplation: Maybe soon — thinking about it.
  3. Preparation: Ready, taking small steps.
  4. Action: ...
How we make decisions
How we make decisions

New studies examined the relationship between how people make decisions - if they make it rationally or emotionally - and how determined they are to defend that choice.

They found t...

Implications of emotional decision-making
  • For marketers: Drawing out a decision based on feelings could encourage a stronger allegiance among consumers. This could be achieved through subtle tactics like visuals instead of words, or colors instead of gray-scale.

  • For consumers: Choices that need steadfast commitment should be made with emotion instead of weighing up pros and cons. Choices that need frequent consideration should be made rationally.

No One Listens Anymore
No One Listens Anymore

Most of us have encountered people around us, friends, family or colleagues, who aren't the best of listeners.

As the world gets more and more connected and complicated, listening is turning ...

The 2016 Debacle

The Political landscapes across the globe were proving drastically wrong forecasts, with improbably wrong polling data.

The mainstream media, which is relying on social media for most of the data, was misleading because of it, and the political forecasters were not listening to what needed to be listened to.

Data-Driven Approach Backfires

By deriving polling data from social media and quoting trending soundbites from Twitter and Facebook, real voices that may not be trending and of any interest to politicians, lobbyists, activists or business interests are losing ground.

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The illusory truth effect
The illusory truth effect

It's our tendency to believe false information to be correct after repeated exposure to it.

The illusory truth effect is the reason why advertising and propaganda works.

Why repetition reinforces a belief

The typical explanation is that our brains take shortcuts to save energy:

  • Statements presented in as easy-to-read color are judged as more likely to be true.
  • Aphorisms that rhyme (like “what sobriety conceals, alcohol reveals") seem more accurate than non-rhyming versions.

    Carl Sagan
    Carl Sagan

    “One of the saddest lessons of history is this: If we’ve been bamboozled long enough, we tend to reject any evidence of the bamboozle. We’re no longer interested in finding out the truth. The bamboozle has captured us. It’s simply too painful to acknowledge, even to ourselves, that we’ve been taken. ”

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    Paleo concept

    Humans evolved on a diet very different from today's eating habits. To be healthier, leaner, stronger and fitter, we must re-think our diet and remove some of the food groups we ...

    What to eat
    • Animals (especially a "whole animal" approach, including organs, bone marrow, cartilage, and organs).
    • Animal products (such as eggs or honey).
    • Vegetables and fruits.
    • Raw nuts and seeds.
    • Added fats (like coconut oil, avocado, butter, ghee).
    What to avoid
    • Grains, although research suggests eating whole grains improve our health and appear to be neutral when it comes to inflammation.
    • Heavily processed oils, such as canola and soybean oil.
    • Legumes, although research suggests the benefits of legumes outweigh their anti-nutrient content. Cooking eliminates most anti-nutrient effects. Some anti-nutrients may even be good.
    • Dairy.

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    Homo Narrativus
    Homo Narrativus

    We, humans, seek stories.

    We are essentially ‘story finders’ looking for meaning, narrative and shape in everything around us. We tend to not believe in improbable...

    Bias Towards The Individual

    Stories built around individuals provide relatability and a sense of being in the shoes of the people involved, living in the narrative.

    Our tendency to give a ‘face’ and a story to a group or collection of people made us invent a dominant leader of the group, like the President, or the Team Captain, or the Monarch.

    How Fame Alters Our Perceptions
    • The popularity or fame of an individual or a piece of art (like a painting, song or a movie) alters how we perceive it.
    • The characteristics and behaviour of the people among whom fame spreads matters more than the actual merit or quality.
    • A study showed that more people liked the songs that were topping the charts, copying the behaviour of other listeners, and if the same songs were arranged randomly, they were not chosen or liked that much.

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