The bandwagon effect is the observation that people often do (or believe) things because many other people do (or believe) the same. The effect is often pejoratively referred to as herding instinct , particularly as applied to adolescents. Without examining the merits of the particular thing, people tend to “follow the crowd”. The bandwagon effect is the reason for the bandwagon fallacy ‘s success.

Literally, a bandwagon is a wagon that carries the band in a parade, circus or other entertainment. The phrase ‘jump on the bandwagon’ was first used in American Politics in 1848 as a result of Dan Rice , ‘President Lincoln’s Court Jester. Campaigning for Zachary Taylor , Dan Rice, a professional circus clown, used his bandwagon for Taylor’s appearances, gaining attention by way of the music. As Taylor’s campaign became more successful, more politicians strove for a seat on the bandwagon, hoping to be associated with the success. Later, bandwagons had become a standard fixture of campaigns, and ‘jump on the bandwagon’ was used as a derogatory term, implying that people were associating themselves with the success without considering what they associated themselves with.

Use in Politics

The bandwagon effect can be observed in voting: some people vote for those candidates or parties who are likely to succeed (or are proclaimed as such by the media), thus increasing their chances of being on the ‘winner’s side’ in the end.

Use in Science

In science , the bandwagon effect is the phenomenon of scientists exercising self-censorship when reporting results that differ considerably from “accepted wisdom”. For example, when measuring important values in astronomy , such as the distance of the Sun to the centre of the Milky Way , published values tend to agree with the accepted value at the time of publication, even if completely new measurement procedures are employed. When a measurement yields a result at variance with the then-accepted value, scientists will check their methods and calculations repeatedly and delay (or even abandon) publication, while results that agree with the accepted value are published uncritically.

Use in Microeconomics

In microeconomics , bandwagon effect is a term for an interaction of demand and preference. The bandwagon effect arises when people’s preference for a commodity increases as the number of people buying it increases. This interaction potentially disturbs the normal results of the theory of supply and demand , which assumes that consumers make buying decisions solely based on price and their own personal preference.

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