Do you like sports? Have you ever supported a team all throughout the year, only to have it fall short in the playoffs? It happens every year to millions of kids since only a couple of teams can make it to the championship game in any sport.
For example, if your favorite football team doesn’t make it to the Super Bowl, what do you do? Do you still watch it? Since this is one of the most-watched programs on television every year, we bet you probably do.
If you’re like a lot of kids, you probably pick one of the teams to root for during the game. If you do this, you’ve just jumped on that team’s bandwagon… at least for one game!
A bandwagon is a real thing. As the name suggests, it’s a wagon used to carry a band in a parade or a circus.
The phrase “jump on the bandwagon” got its start in American politics way back in 1848. Dan Rice was a popular circus clown at that time. When he decided to run for political office, he used his bandwagon and its music to draw attention to his campaign.
His bandwagon drew plenty of attention, and his campaign became successful. As he gained more supporters, other politicians tried to get seats on Rice’s bandwagon. By jumping on Rice’s bandwagon, they hoped that his success would rub off on them.
Psychologists would say that these other politicians hoped to benefit from the “bandwagon effect.” The bandwagon effect is a form of groupthink: people act a certain way or believe in something because many others are doing so.
You may have heard this type of behavior referred to as “conformity.” In a school setting, children will often conform their beliefs and actions to match others’ due to peer pressure.
Scientists who study behavior are not sure whether this occurs because people naturally prefer to conform to others’ beliefs and actions or whether they do so because of information they get from others.
A common example for jumping on the bandwagon is when people follow fads. A fad is something that quickly becomes very popular. It has a big following, but lasts a short time and quickly fades as well.