Sydney, May 13 : An Australian study has shown that a fish is led into danger when at least two other fish swim towards a predator, a finding that may help discern why people sometimes blindly cross the road just as they see others doing so, without first checking whether their step is safe.
Dr. Ashley Ward of the University of Sydney, who claims it to be the first 'quorum response' study in vertebrates, tested what happens when real fish swim with a robot fish that his team could move towards a predator. He and his colleagues found that the real fish almost ignored one robot fish.
However, when the researchers introduced one more robot fish in the study, they saw the real fish following the two robots towards the predator.
"One individual wasn't enough to lead a group but two individuals always were," ABC Online quoted Ward as saying.
He revealed that his team was planning a new study to determine whether their findings were equally applicable to human crowds.
"When we find ourselves in a large social group we respond to social cues," said Ward, giving the example of people at traffic crossings.
"A lot of people simply respond to social cues. They wait until other people start to cross and they start cross themselves without actually even checking the lights," he added.
Such studies would be carried out in cities like Sydney and Leeds in the UK to determine how many pedestrians it takes to lead a crowd across a road against a red light.
"I'm guessing people will follow the same rules as fish," said Ward.
He also expressed his belief that a quorum could lead people to do good things as well as bad things.
The study has been published online in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.