The selfish herd theory


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.


  1. crow says:

    I must be abnormal. I’ve always gravitated away from crowds.
    Maybe I like a clear view of approaching danger, and have superior confidence in my own ability to deal with it, if and when it comes.
    Crowds suffocate me. Panic me. Disgust me.

    1. LoreTek says:

      I agree whole heartedly. When a disaster hits, the last place I want to be is stuck, unable to move, in the middle of a crowd.

  2. Tony says:

    People move to the center of cities even if they can’t afford it. Follow the leader. How many inventions were found by the herd? How much art?

  3. LoreTek says:

    Ah yes, good. I’m glad to see this as a new tag for topics. You can see this behavior quite well when you target someones behavior verbally. They will usually respond with “we” do this because or “we” are this, so your opinion is wrong. It is rarely “I” do this because “I” feel. They do this, from what I’ve observed, to make sure that you know you are attacking the whole group when you attack them, not just them. This of course makes any debate improbable at best. They are comfortable behind the walls of their group, and you are the bigot unable to change your flawed opinion to theirs.

    This theory gets even more interesting when you look at leadership dynamics. Wikipedia has a good summary of the different models described here:

    I’ve ordered them, according to my opinion, from most beneficial of overall adaption and evolution, to least. Again, your “opinion” on adaption can range abstract or concrete. Ie from overall to individualist. Or from we adapt by overcoming to we are going to continue doing what we want and you adapt to us.

    1. Apparently spiteful leadership- route chosen by the leader is difficult for all to follow, but is nearly impossible for the slowest members to follow
    2. Seemingly cooperative leadership- route chosen by the leader happens to be beneficial to the entire herd
    3. Openly selfish leadership- route chosen by the leader minimizes his predation risk, but does not minimize the total predation risk of the herd
    4. Seemingly altruistic leadership- route chosen by the leader may be favorable to the majority of the herd, but may difficult for the fastest members
    5. Seemingly populist leadership- route chosen by the leader is easier for the slowest members to follow, but may be harder for other members

    It is clear to me how these models apply to leadership in our nation. Some focus on what will strengthen us as a whole, and others focus on what will not. Those that focus on what will not usually have other goals in mind, such as getting re-elected, or showing how much they care about the people today and yesterday, not tomorrow. This is the “farce”. It is “good” nature in image only. Whether or not it is by design or inability to see the effects, making 1&2 taboo and making life harder on the best members is devolving our minds, perceptions, and our ability to adapt and grow in a positive direction.

    It can be easily observed in America over the last century, this does NOT in any way lead to a stronger or better nation. Only in the delusional reality of the modern mind/ego is “the world is getting better, more adapted, and stronger” an observation.

  4. thordaddy says:

    The “selfish herd theory” reads like reverse-psychology and doesn’t seem analogous to the human crowd unless said crowd comes with the disclaimer proclaiming this “herd does not devour itself.” To coalesce into one like-minded herd in order to explode on a far less massive but deadly force reads like “intelligent herd theory.” Of course, white man cannot coalesce into a non self-devouring herd and so his collective explosion is weakened and his selfishness exposed when real threats emerge.

  5. Repair_Man_Jack says:

    If you can’t outswim the shark, make sure your next to the fat guy on the beach who can’t swim.

    1. crow says:

      So you can altruistically offer yourself up as a shark-meal instead?
      Greater love hath no man than he who feeds himself to a hungry shark so the fat non-swimmer-guy may live.

      1. Ben Salmon says:

        Forgot about those. Thanks!

  6. […] cultural Marxists, anti-majoritarians, and other crowdists are well known for using false-flag operations. I myself have been accused of being a false flag. […]

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