Someone mentioned this in the comments, so I feel it should be preserved and discussed here as part of our ongoing mission to figure out what’s gone wrong with modern society and how to fix it.
The selfish herd theory is a self-preservation response by individuals that uses the anonymity of the group to minimize risk to the individual. It is not unique to any species; in fact, the selfish herd theory applies wherever a uniform group faces risk:
He suggested that groups of animals as diverse as insects, fish and cattle all react to danger by moving towards the middle of their swarm, school or herd, known as the selfish herd theory. Individuals in a herd benefit from being able to control where they are relative to their group-mates and any potential predator. It also reduces the chances of being the one the predator goes for when it attacks.
From an individual point of view, this makes the most sense. Why sacrifice yourself for others? If you can’t fight back, flight is your only option.
But, as the researchers note, this isn’t the only reason for the selfish herd theory activity. Herds tend to explode outward at random and in panic when a threat gets too close to ignore. Thus an even greater risk than the predator is getting trampled, butted, stampeded, etc. and then eaten.
Much like the study of human Crowds, which is in its infancy because it violates the fundamental taboo on noticing the limits of our willpower, the selfish herd theory-based studies of the future will show how this theory explains most herd behavior.
For example, when a herd finds a new field of fresh green grass, there is probably a similar response to avoid getting injured by the greediest of beasts. And another to stay out of the way when competition drives the herd to move at high speed toward the next resource.
We see these behaviors every day in humanity. People move to the center of cities if they can afford it. When surrounded by others, they tend to find landmarks or barriers to stay near. But this in turn shapes how we think, and what we expect, and in its anticipatory state in our minds, limits what we are willing to do, especially for the herd at large.