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.


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    • Hello, Rahul! We really like getting your comments so bright and early in Wonderopolis each day! That’s a super smart guess about the bubbles! We’ll have to see tomorrow if you were right! :-)

  1. Wow! You totally threw me off. Yesterday I read the clue, and I thought that the wonder would be something extremely different. All of the wonders you put out are very interesting. You wouldn’t think a website your librarian showed you would be this cool. Does tomorrow’s wonder have something to do with bubbles or boiling?

    • We think your librarian ROCKS for sharing Wonderopolis with you, Allison, and we think YOU ROCK for sharing this awesome comment with us! We’ll all have to check back tomorrow to see if the Wonder is about bubbles or boiling! That’s a GREAT guess! :-)

    • Thanks for letting us know you liked the video for this Wonder of the Day®, Paige! We appreciate your guess, too! Let’s visit Wonderopolis tomorrow to see if you are right! :-)

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Have you ever wondered…

  • How do you jump on the bandwagon?
  • What is the bandwagon effect?
  • Should you jump on the bandwagon?

Wonder Gallery

girls in cart_shutterstock_33210337Vimeo Video

Try It Out

Do you ever jump on the bandwagon? It’s OK if you do. We all jump on the bandwagon from time to time.

Especially when it comes to trends and fads, we all get caught up in the excitement of what’s popular at the moment. It’s important to remember, though, that the world needs creative and original leaders, not just followers.

When it comes to making decisions, try this approach: Gather information from many trusted sources. Look at the topic from all sides, weigh the facts and take the time to form your own independent opinion.

Evaluating information yourself will help you make better decisions. Be true to yourself — the fact that “everyone else is doing it” is rarely a good reason for doing anything!

Think about a big decision you have to make. What are your choices? What are others’ opinions? What do the experts say?

Most important, come up with your own idea, and support it with solid reasons. If you have done this, you may be a leader with others jumping on your bandwagon.


Still Wondering

Use Illuminations’ Sports Numbers lesson to use sports and sporting events to identify and describe various uses of numbers, including whole numbers, decimals, common fractions and percents.


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