This is the third in a series of blog posts on behavioral convergence. Please visit the first  and second blog posts in the series for more information.

My teacher once instructed me to stand in class and tell everyone that I was going to fail History after my abysmal effort on a test at school. Of course, I then went on to pass the subject with ease a year early. So how does this reflect behavioral convergence? I have already spoken about fundamental human nature throughout the series, and in this part we will explore two more predominant behaviors:

  • Our need to be challenged
  • Our need to be led

The most dangerous demand a child can make to another is: I dare you! We are driven to achieve attainable goals like ants to sugar. The key word in the last sentence is “attainable”. We can also be led to reach what looks like an unattainable goal by breaking it down into small steps in which even the smallest reward is given at each point of execution.

A good example is Monopoly, where players build up properties and amass money. The same fundamental drive which turns a friendly game into an all-out war pushes financial trading, social level-based games, exercise, loyalty programs and so much more. The power is exponentially increased when combined with our nature to be led.

We can see the effects of delegation of leadership in our daily lives. As a nation we delegate to politicians, as employees to managers, as employers to boards or investors. We derive comfort from not taking ultimate responsibility, especially when it comes to taking difficult decisions and acting on them. There are very few among us willing to become the person in charge – and those who do often ridiculed for how they relinquish this responsibility in their home lives. This desire to have leaders also manifests into a need for processes: first do this, then that, then…

Imagine your real life experiences in dealing with something as simple as waiting in a queue. You probably feel a lot calmer in a place with a “take a number” system and clear instructions on what to present to the service provider, rather than facing the alternative of a free for all with no rules. An example of this latter alternative is a supermarket checkout, where you are forced to check which queue looks shorter or quicker, and once you have chosen, you face constant doubt that your choice was correct, or even worse that someone will try to squeeze in.

Perhaps we should take a moment to convince supermarkets that they have a lot to learn. But instead, in part four of our series, we will finally see how we can put into practice all the lessons learned from our review of human behavior and behavioral convergence.