17 January 2024
With the new year, the Thinking Big ‘baton’ passes from Upper to Lower Sixth, and Catherine and Sephora were first out of the blocks with a thought-provoking and entertaining talk titled Voting and herd mentality. This was a particularly topical talk in a year where around half the world’s population has the opportunity to vote in national elections.
After explaining that herd mentality – the tendency for people’s behaviour or beliefs to conform to those of a group to which they belong - is a psychological phenomenon that occurs to due social pressure, Catherine and Sephora shared examples of it in history, such as the assassination of Julius Caesar and the Salem witch trials, and also today, including fashion trends and the ‘echo chambers’ of social media algorithms, where people encounter opinions that coincide with their own. They also shared examples of where herd mentality has been used more positively for empowerment, including the Black Lives Matter movement.
Catherine and Sephora proposed that politics is exploiting the ingrained herd mentality of the masses to gain support, sharing research from 2017 in Great Britain showing that two thirds of people don’t read manifestos before voting and suggesting that most voters are not influenced directly by party promises but rather through media – increasingly social media, such as TikTok.
In conclusion, they urged their peers, many of whom – like them – will be eligible to vote in the next UK general election, to be aware of misinformation and inform themselves from original source material.