Propaganda & Mass Persuasion: Part of the Herd

Thursday, March 05, 2009

Part of the Herd

Wilfred Trotter, who was involved in public relations in the early 20th century, had a theory on the over whelming impact of “herd instinct”. Herd instinct is the need of people to gain approval and camaraderie from a social group. I believe in its power and agree with Trotters theory that states:
“It can inhibit or stimulate his thought and conduct. It is the source of his moral codes, of the sanctions of his ethics and philosophy. It can endow him with energy, courage, and endurance, and can easily take these away” (Ewen, PR! 137).

All herds have leaders; the rest of the herd is more willing to go with what the leader says then to think for him or herself. The heard has trust in their leaders and rarely goes against the leaders thoughts.

Whether the leader is the government, a magazine governing fashion or thought, or the popular kid in high school, the herd listens and follows as long as their leader is trusted. This explains a lot, why we buy certain cloths, drink certain drinks, or drive certain cars. We do what the majority does; rarely stopping to question what we are told or to decide what might be best for ones individual self.

When it comes to public relations, if the leader of the herd can be controlled then the mass of people can be controlled. I would have to agree with Trotter’s theories that the human being “is more sensitive to the voice of the herd than to any other influence.


Blogger A. Mattson said...

A good post.

I don't think that Trotter's "herd instinct" is a popular concept in modern social psychology. But it was certainly persuasive to a lot of intellectuals at the beginning of the past century.

If you agree with Trotter on this point then you have a tough question to answer: Is democracy still possible if people are not rational individuals thinking for themselves? Can we still have a working democratic society with a "herd" instead of an educated public?

3/18/2009 12:09 PM  

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