You decide, one Sunday, to take a random drive in the country to enjoy the fresh air and lush scenery of fields lit bright with glowing trees swaying in the afternoon sun. After exploring the countless, sand and dirt covered roads that pave the rolling landscape, you turn down one a little more remote than the others. To the right is a field of beautiful sunflowers, to the left you find an illegal dump site full of rusty old cars, appliances, and tin cans. You are appalled by the sight of such negligence by those who do not take the same pride in the environment as you do. How did this happen? Surely this was not the act of one person.
You are probably right. This was not the act of one person but instead started by one and grew too many until the entire side of the road was littered with trash that could have otherwise found its way to a salvage yard or landfill. A single act by one person granted others the permission to do the same. The old dryer lying in the ditch somehow suggested to everyone that drove by, this was now accepted as a dumpsite for the items they didn’t want anymore although the law strongly states otherwise. It did not happen in one swift moment rather that as the pile grew larger, the power of suggestion did as well until people were dumping there at an exponential rate. Why would one add to the problem rather than correct it?
Human behavior can often be a puzzling thing to explain. Many people in various areas of expertise have attempted to show cause to the human condition with general statements such as tipping point, bandwagon effect, cascading and the like. All have their own specific examples, but few are comprehensive enough to call earth shattering discoveries. There is however, a common correlation between these theories of behavior. It almost always starts with one person and at a fairly fast pace becomes the behavior of many. With such a general statement, the cause can only be explained with an even more general answer. Adding too many details to an explanation of a widespread and clearly divided set of behaviors is to trivialize the various situations of which led to a range of outcomes. The fact is humans tend to emulate other humans and the more they interact with one another, the more rapid the progression of emulation.
This answer is only one factor of human behavior and will always play a critical role in deciding the outcome of change. There are many other factors that will shape the outcome of any situation. These factors should never be qualified as indifferent to their effects on the human psyche. The weather, as simple as it may sound, plays a huge role in a relatively small number of situations where mood is the prominent theme. This essay is only to help explore one factor in which humans affect each other whether consciously or unconsciously, willing or not.
Malcolm Gladwell, a staff writer for The New Yorker whos bestseller, “The Tipping Point” offers one of many similar theories into...