Professor Robert Cialdini attempts to answer some of these questions in his book, Influence. In it, Professor Cialdini discusses:
"... a number of stimuli that trigger an automatic response in people, including the effect that "social proof" has on the human mind.
The mechanics of social proof, while somewhat complex, are pretty easy to understand. Simplistically, we humans have a strong tendency to glance over at other members of the herd in an attempt to gauge the correct action or reaction to take in any given circumstance. While this tendency can be useful in identifying the right bread plate to use at a fancy dinner party, it can also have devastating consequences.
In one of the most notorious examples of the downside of social proof, in 1964 Kitty Genovese was slowly murdered on a New York sidewalk over the course of about 30 minutes, despite 40 or so witnesses, none of whom took action. They figured someone else would."
Likewise average people will watch as someone hits their dog or loudly swears at their child in a store.
In any event, understanding the concept of social proof - and its close cousin "social convention" - seems to me to be of fundamental importance if we are to make changes towards protecting our vulnerable human and non human kin on this beautiful planet.
As far as the former is concerned, if you ever find yourself doing the same thing as everyone else, it may be useful to stop and ask whether you are doing the thing because you want to, or because you think it is right thing to do - or are you doing it just because it's what everyone else does?
As for the latter, if you rely on the cues coming from the mainstream media and officialdom you would likely believe that being a bully in all its many forms is a valued and healthy behavior.
Even I find myself concerned that I maybe wrong about what is 'acceptable' abuse! As if any abuse can be acceptable.
Here is a photo of Benny with another Reunion Rescue buddy, Mr Sweets. Mr Sweets, like Benny recovered from a severe cases of mange. Where are these two buddies hanging out? At our hero Doug's place:
and Benny with more of his friends:
Wishing all of us the courage to continue working for a safer and healthier planet for all future generations to come,