What does the “bandwagon effect” mean? Meaning and use


Someone is talking about the “bandwagon effect” and you don’t know what that means? We’ll tell you what’s behind the term and how you use it.

Here you can find out what is behind the term “bandwagon effect”. (Source: Casimiro_PT / depositphotos.com)

That means bandwagon effect: follower / winner effect

The term “bandwagon effect” is derived from English and denotes the mid-runner or winner effect. This refers to the tendency to join the apparent winner. The “bandwagon effect” is particularly well known in connection with elections and hype.

In action theory, the “bandwagon effect” is understood to mean the effect that a perceived success has on the willingness to join. This is in contrast to the underdog effect. The “bandwagon effect” can be compared to peer pressure, but the reasons can be more diverse than pure social pressure.


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Origin of the bandwagon effect

The term “bandwagon effect” became known in a US American social study in the 1940s, but had already been described a few years earlier by the German SPD politician Carlo Mierendorff as a “political herd instinct”. The first English translation “band wagon impuls” became “bandwagon effect”.

»In our list of abbreviations we explain around 200 other terms from the Internet language.

The English expression “Bandwagon” literally refers to the (festival) wagon of a musical troupe. When moving, this is accompanied on foot by fellow travelers, creating a metaphor for the “bandwagon effect”.

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Abbreviations and their meanings

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