The Human Herd Goes to the Movies


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The herd instinct is as strong with multimillionaires as it is with any two- or four-legged animal. ~ Bob Graham

Yesterday, I went to a late afternoon matinee to see Life of Pi with a galpal. We entered the theater and there were two other folks, seated in the middle about half way down. No one else was there some 10 minutes ahead of show time. Super! It wasn’t going to be crowded (not that we expected it to be).

We sat about three rows back from the other couple to give them their space. A few minutes later a group of four adults entered, and squeezed in right next to us on the outside seats. A minute later – six more adults entered and squeezed next to us on the opposite side. Two minutes later – we had four more herd members directly in front of us. And so it went.

We weren’t in the best seats in the house. Plus the house was basically empty. People could have chosen to spread out and have their own perfect seats. Instead, by the time the lights dimmed, we were surrounded by a cluster of humanity.

Yes, the herd instinct is strong.

But that’s wasn’t the only demo of mind programming I experienced in that movie theater. The first was instinctual – the second was experiential. Here’s why….

The lights dimmed and the theater proceeded to show nine previews ahead of the movie. Nine. They wouldn’t have gotten away with that if they hadn’t used experiential programming to keep everyone seated in anticipation of the movie. Here’s how they kept us contented as we watched 18 minutes of previews.

  • We’ve subtly been programmed to believe that when they flash the “Please be quiet, turn off your cell phones, no talking during the feature,” kinda message the show is going to begin. I actually didn’t realize I’d been programmed to believe that until I was paying attention yesterday.
  • They showed three previews – and then that message flashed. I watched as everyone settled in for the movie.
  • When more previews came there was a slight groan – but people waited. If they were like me, they were thinking, “OK, one or two more.”
  • After three more previews, there came that same message about phones and quiet, signaling the feature was about to begin. This time, the theater even dimmed those outside lights that stay on until the feature starts.
  • Then came three more previews. There was an audible groan from the herd as we realized the preview was, indeed, another preview. But we all sat there. Waiting for our treat (the feature) like proverbial rats in a maze.

Examples of our mind programming are all around us. Even in a movie theater on a Tuesday afternoon.

That’s why I have to laugh when naysayers stand up for their status quo beliefs and knowns and tell me all this mind programming is mental mumbo jumbo.

We are humans in life and business. We are driven by instincts and experiences that have formed our patterns of behavior, thinking and response.

There’s amazing power to change, to adapt for advantage and to step into our full potential – beyond our programming. All it takes is a bit of learning and practice.

So why do so many of us fight for our limitations, for the way we’ve always thought about it, given this new and powerful knowledge abot how we can change our minds?

Well, that’s another instinctual mind program. It’s called the conformity instinct.

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Rebel Brown
Rebel Brown consistently challenges the status quo to deliver optimum solutions and high velocity growth for her clients. She combines the strategic expertise and tactical savvy of a global Corporate Strategy, Launch and Turnaround Expert, along with the leadership and motivational skills needed to get the job done.


  1. Hello Rebel

    You make a great points about the being of human-beings. And you point towards biases – the cognitive machinery. Yes, it is at work. And I wonder if that is the full story. Why?

    If you go back to Greek literature during Homeric times you might just find that the conception of human beings and life to be dramatically different to that which is so today. Go back to medieval times and you will find a significant difference – to Homeric times and our culture today.

    My point is that we, in the West, are gripped by a particularly powerful delusion which came out of the enlightenment and the likes of Descartes. The human being as the super rational being whose reason reigns supreme. One that has complete control of himself. Can see perfectly into the nature of self, things, the universe. And then make the clockwork universe, including himself, work perfectly. This is the delusion/context from which we ALL operate.

    What you have gotten present to is something rather different. The default being of human being is to act mindlessly (without thinking) – out of habit. And the most powerful habits are those shaped by the ‘machinery of human beings’. When you get that you get that we do not have habits (ways of being). No, habits have us. Notice, you do not choose who you find attractive. You notice who has stirred your human machinery…

    If you get profoundly present to that which you have experienced and get to the root, I say it rocks your world. What you see is that we all swim in delusion. Mostly we are not present to what we do. Mostly we haven’t got a clue why we do what we do. Mostly we do not even how we do what we do.



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