Pack Mentality in Human Culture

Pack Mentality, Hierarchy, oil on canvas, 6’x 6′

I used to watch the television show, Dog Whisperer with Cesar Millan. Cesar’s approach to training dogs was to use the animal’s own instinctive pack mentality to adjust the animal’s behavior in alignment with the wishes of the dog’s owner. The more that I watched the show the more I began to think how pack mentality explains a lot of behavior in human culture.

I started to think about things such as most religions thinking of God as a male and how that seems like the ultimate alpha male figure who provides guidance, protection, and living essentials. Even concepts like racism becomes more understandable when looking at it through the lens of pack mentality.  A wolf that doesn’t visually resemble the rest of the pack is often ostracized.  Racism seems, from this vantage point, to be hard-wired within human culture to an extent and it is the responsibility of the individual to transcend that mistrust by means of education. Without education, humans seem to regress a bit to an animal-like tendency to group together based on human’s most predominant sense, sight. Like gravitates towards like.

Much of society is based off of unconscious thoughts that relate to pack mentality. Ideas like beauty are instinctively designed to strengthen the pack.  Beauty is often directly related to symmetry, good health, strength, fertility, and the ability to provide amply according to the person’s role within the relationship and pack at large.

This image is the first in a series of paintings that will explore some of these ideas regarding pack mentality in human culture. This first painting titled Hierarchy looks at how individuals compete for status within the pack. Each participant in this race for status uses their strongest attributes to elevate their role within the pack.  One uses his brains (carrying the diploma) while the other uses his labor (the hammer) to get ahead.  Each must exhibit strength, which is desirable for any leadership role, and initiative to acquire greater and greater status.

The more the individual can collect the stronger his case for leadership is.  Money, good looks, land, and power are some of the things used to measure a person’s worth.  The red lines on the viewer’s left are lines of measurement that society uses to assess a person’s worth and how relevant that person is. The map in the background is symbolic of the need to increase territory and strength. I made the map on a padded wall as a statement of how the idea of land ownership is really kind of a crazy construct, however necessary it may be. A construct that people have always, and will always cling to and is an excellent measurement of status and strength.