Animal Spirits

In the NYT, Professor Shiller writes,


I was actually thinking the very same thing the other day, but rather how people would behave as a group. A group may act in a herd-like manner, but it may be worthwhile to consider, which kind of herd?

They can respond to a situation like a mob of meerkats or stampede like an obstinacy of bison. Unlike animals who will always behave as nature intended, humans have the privilege to choose how to behave, adapt to situations.

They can decide whether to mimic each other or act contrarily. No wonder behavioural scientists have such difficulty trying to forecast how a group of people would respond to a stimuli.

There must be a scale of how adaptive a particular herd is to changing its identity. Needless to say, a herd that can agree to act correctly and decisively would be light years ahead of a herd that has a static sense of self.

Then again, cooperation between herd members can morph positively into a ‘group gestaltism’, or negatively, into mediocrity.

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