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  • Writer's pictureEmre Özarslan

THE EVOLUTIONARY CAUSE FOR THE POWER OF INFLUENCERS

Updated: Nov 23, 2023

In a study there were scientists who were experts in their fields in the first group, and social media influencers with hundreds of thousands of followers in the second group.

Which group was more successful in convincing people of the Theory of Evolution?


Answer: Social media influencers


We do not follow influencers because of their scientific expertise. The reason why we are so affected by them is the social status effect.


Two elements were crucial in our evolutionary history:

  1. social hierarchy

  2. gossip


Hierarchy:

Being excluded from small groups meant death.

In order not to be kicked out and to be at the top of the group one day, people gained an advantage by practicing what the most followed people did, thought and approved.

“Among chimpanzees, the alpha male usually wins his position not because he is physically stronger, but because he leads a large and stable coalition.
- Yuval Noah Harrari

Gossip:

Gossip was a critical flow of information for survival in a small group: individuals who knew who was sleeping, fighting, getting angry or shopping with whom, acted upon this information, increased their chances of survival and reproduction.

“Even today the vast majority of human communication – whether in the form of emails, phone calls or newspaper columns – is gossip. It comes so naturally to us that it seems as if our language evolved for this very purpose.
- Yuval Noah Harrari

At impulsive levels, our brains cannot distinguish between the people around us and the people we see on the screen.

We perceive celebrities as people who are at the top of our group and whose every thought is important.

That's why we care more about the opinions of influencers with many followers than non-follower experts.


Even in subjects of which they have no knowledge...


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