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The Canine in Conversation
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photograph of a group of cubscouts
figure 1  


pack mentality. A cast of mind in which individuals cede their will to that of the group, especially under the influence of a strong or charismatic leader. Groupthink.

In animal behavior, “pack mentality” is distinguished from “herd behavior.” In his landmark study, “Geometry for the Selfish Herd,” William Hamilton described herd behavior as the individual seeking to be as close to the center of the group as possible to minimize danger to itself rather than the following of a particular leader.reference 1 However, in metaphorical usage, these two terms are often used synonymously to describe a tendency to go along with the crowd. In a New York Times article describing the behavior of real estate buyers, broker Barbara Corcoran used the phrase “pack mentality” and defines it this way: “Everybody likes to buy when everybody is buying, and nobody likes to buy when no one is buying.''reference 2

1. Hamilton, WD. 1971. Geometry for the Selfish Herd. Journal of Theoretical Biology 31 (2):295-311.

2. Hevesi, Dennis. 2002. 4br, 2 Baths and an Analyst's Couch. New York Times, Feb 17, 1.

About the illustration: Cub Scout Pack 37 of Deansboro, New York. Of course the “pack” in scouting is the wolf pack, not the dog pack. Photographer unknown.
see also: canaille; alpha male; lead dog; leader of the pack; top dog Last updated: July 28, 2008
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