Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Herd behavior and cascades (in humans)

There is a lot of research on what is called "herd behavior" in humans, which might be useful when applied to herd animals like horses. The basic idea is that in some cases people do what they do because they see others doing it. There are also some specialized models of human herd behavior, which are called "cascades."

In the last two decades several distinct sorts of cascading behavior have emerged as topics of research. Some of this work involves the development of mathematical models which might be useful in modeling animal group behavior.

These include the informational cascade, the information cascade, the reputational cascade, the availability cascade and herd behavior. The relative size of these various research efforts can be gauged from the number of documents found by Google Scholar, when one searches on the name of the behavior. As of this writing these results are as follows:
 "Herd behavior" gives over 15,000 hits.
"Informational cascade" gives about 1700 hits.
"Information cascade" gives about 3000 hits.
"Availability cascade" gives about 200 hits.
"Reputational cascade" gives about 100 hits.

Taken together this amounts to a great deal of research into herd-like behavior.