As much as we humans like to think of ourselves as sophisticated, there are many things we do at animal level. One of these is herd behavior, our tendency to blindly follow the lead of others and go with the group. And while this is often a choice, as when we follow trendsetters and celebrities, we also follow the leader without even realizing we’re doing it. In experiments, more than nine people in ten are followers.
This herd behavior is at its most apparent among teenage school children who have a very high need to be accepted, to be a part of The In Crowd. Here is Dobie Gray’s version from Shindig. One way to be a part of an in-crowd is to wear the right clothes. In the past fifty years alone, in-groups have included beatniks, bikers, preppies, hippies, surfers, Mods, Rockers, Teddy Boys, Deadheads, stoners, greasers, punks, emos, goths, Kawaii, and many, many more.
In-group membership has two components: moving away from and moving toward.
Among teens, moving away means rejection of parental ideals and past generations, important in the development of self. Moving toward is the desire for inclusion, belonging and acceptance.
As The Austin Lounge Lizards say in Big Tex: “All her friends were non-conformists, so she became a non-conformist, too.”