Wednesday, August 09, 2006

The Monkey See/Monkey Do Phenomenon

Do you remember the game people used to play when they visited a city with tall buildings such as NYC? They would look up into the sky and point. Of course, there was nothing going on in the sky, but within moments tens or hundreds of people would be looking up to see the nothing that was going on. And the (usually) kids who started the looking and pointing would giggle.

I don’t know why we follow the lead of others like that. Maybe it has something to do with our monkey-related genes: Monkey See, Monkey Do.

Of course, it doesn’t take a couple of giggling, juvenile pranksters to set us off on the monkey see/monkey do reflex. This afternoon I was in a relatively long—long for a Wednesday anyway—line at my bank. There were about eight people in front of me. As the young woman at the front of the line walked up to the teller, she reached into her jean’s pocket and pulled out her cell phone. I didn’t hear the cell phone ring; maybe she had it set on vibrate. However, within moments of her pulling out her cell phone, I saw six of the eight people in the line pull out their cell phones and look at them.

I admit that there would have been seven rather than six looking at their cells phones, because I had the urge to look at mine. However, when I noticed what the others were doing, I resisted the urge. I suppose the non-conformist in me is even stronger than the monkey see/monkey do genetics.

I have no idea what my noting and reporting the reaching for cell phones means, if anything. I wonder if I could apply for a Federal grant to study the phenomenon?


  1. LOL, that cartoon looks very much like our Australian Prime Minister and our smiling assassin treasurer!! Both monkeys ;o)

  2. Good observation, Nick. & good disciplinary practice- even in church, you'll see people automatically reaching for their phones- although they do request that they be turned off before the service...

  3. Many lesser things than that have been funded and studied. ec

  4. I think posting about it just means a) you're a non-conformist. b) you know this about yourself. c) you are aware that there are others like you out there.

  5. Hehehe, that's funny. I think I would've been one of the ones who checked their phone !!
    Have a great weekend.
    Take care, Meow

  6. One way people become socialized is by copying the behavior of others. Well, that is an explanation, even if it is not very good.

  7. Very cool design! Useful information. Go on! »