The bandwagon effect in the workplace as a cognitive bias

The bandwagon. A wonderful thing.

Often quite comfortable for a few weeks, just riding along enjoying the fruits of the wagon. Slowly becomes a bit tiring – you think how much longer do I need to pretend to enjoy this? Then you wish you never hopped on.

This week’s social bandwagon: Face App.

This week’s thunder bug bandwagon: flying on my face.

Because if getting four of me on my wedding day off my mum wasn’t enough, I also get to see 28 posts a second of everyone else’s.

In three years when you learn your smiling, saggy old face is being used as an advert for a Russian care home, then you’ll be sorry.

All of us develop a cognitive bias. There are loads. It’s hard not to. We’re only human after all.

Depending on your generation, it’s quite unlikely you haven’t suffered from some kind of herd mentality in one form or another. I know I have. My Mum loved nothing more than the ol’ classic ‘if your friends jumped off a cliff, would you?’.

Of course not, Lucy, but I was 13 and if I didn’t have UGG boots then I may as well have not gone to town on a Saturday morning with your tenner for hoop earrings off the market and panda pops from Woolworths.

Obviously, this goes deeper than Face App and thunder bugs (one which has been behind my laptop screen now for two days after an accidental squishing and I’m not sure what to do about it).

There are different reasons for developing bias. If others are doing it, then why wouldn’t you? Most don’t even question it. No real interest in what they’re doing or why they’re doing it, they just do because everyone else is conforming. You don’t want to get left behind, do you?

The bandwagon in the workplace as a cognitive bias could be a 12 page article in itself, but I’ve got quite a lot to do today so I’ll keep it short (ignoring that I’m already 350 odd words in and haven’t made a point yet).

Most of the skills and traits you develop as a worker are an imitation. Hopefully, for your own sake, they’re off someone who is intrinsically good. Not gobby Graham on the sales floor who peppers his leads with shite until they break.

It’s easy to adopt a particular method of working because that’s what you’re surrounded with. If this is how it’s been for the last 10 years then it’s obviously brilliant, right? Critical thinking is a wonderful thing. Again, save that for another time.

Your industry hasn’t updated itself. You harness the power you’ve created for yourself over the last decade to float on, all while a couple of renegades start hopping off and trying something else. Those were the critical thinkers. The ones who took a little time out of their day to question why they’re doing it and if they changed, would the result achieve more?

As humans, we tend to follow the crowd. But in equal parts, we have an urge to stand out. So where is the middle ground? Where do you fall in?

I don’t have the answer. All I know is that you should question more. Challenge what is the norm and try not to settle for average.

If you’re thinking ‘nope, not me’ then you’re probably suffering with a little bias blind spot. Work on it.

M x

Mollie Adams

Content Marketing Manager

Back to blog

Get in touch

Send us a message

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

We aren’t a high street recruitment agency,
so you’re best to get us by email or on 01865 956742.

We’d love to hear about what it is you’re looking for and how we can help.

We are working remotely at the moment, so the best way to get in contact is via e-mail or giving us a call.