G.R Stephenson’s experiment with 5 monkeys, bananas and water is a masterpiece in terms of showing how traditions and customs or beliefs are formed and what herd psychology (Herd Mentality) is.
To summarize the experiment;
- Scientists place 5 monkeys in a cage and place a ladder with bananas over its top in the middle of the cage.
- Whenever one of the monkeys tries to reach the bananas at the top of the ladder scientists soak the other monkeys with really cold water, not the monkey trying to reach out.
- After a while, every time when a monkey went up the ladder, the others beat up the one on the ladder.
- Finally, no matter how tempting the bananas on the ladder are, no monkey dares to climb the ladder.
- Scientists then take one of the monkeys in the cage and place a different monkey inside.
- This new monkey, unaware of what happened, saw the bananas on the ladder and attempted to climb ladder thinking “Wow suckers, how they couldnt see this awesome, delicious bananas ha,” but suddenly he saw stars after having fists to his eyes and was beated perfectly by the other monkeys. After few more try and being repeatedly beaten, he gives up trying to reach banana without knowing reason of why he was beated and got big big purple eyes…
- Then a second new monkey is replaced instead one of the first monkeys taken out. And the same thing happens again. But this time, among those who beat second new monkey, there is this first new monkey too who was never soaked with cold water, and without knowing reason why to beat he was the one who is beating second new monkey more than others do maybe because his pain was fresh or his anger of being beated! 🙂
- Then third monkey, the fourth monkey and the last fifth monkey who were first placed in cage are removed from the cage and new monkeys are placed in cage. Of course the same thing happens to al of them. They all stop climbing after being beaten up by other monkeys in the cage.
The result is that finally there are five monkeys in the cage that will beat the monkey who will try to climb the ladder to get banana, even though they had never been exposed to cold water before.
If it is possible to ask the monkeys why they do this, they will probably say, “We have seen it like this from our ancestors.”