Why do humans feel the need to be unique?

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I was just taking an online survey not too long ago. It was a 60-question survey, and the results were supposed to tell you what your “empathy quotient” was. The scoring was as follows:

“0 – 32 = low (most people with Asperger Syndrome or high-functioning autism score about 20)

33 – 52 = average (most women score about 47 and most men score about 42)

53 – 63 is above average

64 – 80 is very high

80 is maximum”

Right when I saw this scoring rubric, without even thinking, I hoped I got a score that was out of the “average” category.

Why is this?

I know I can’t be the only one who feels the need to be different, without even thinking about it. Humans, for some reason, are wired to feel like they must stand out from the crowd. People are always trying to out-do one another, whether it be with their music taste (who likes the most indie band?), hair color (who has the brightest ‘do?), or style (who can wear the most abstract outfit?).

Does being “the black sheep” necessarily benefit us? In some ways, yes, of course. Having unique skills under your belt, for example, will help you obtain a job over another applicant. However, being a part of the herd, so to speak, isn’t such a horrible thing, either. It’s perfectly acceptable to like the same things as other people, whether it be a hobby, food, or music. Having common interests is how people connect, so being similar to someone else can actually benefit both parties involved.

One matter I’d like to point out is how it is ironic that people want to be different, but if they are out of the social norm, they’re judged by others. They’re scrutinized, deemed social outcasts, and looked down-upon. It’s a never-ending struggle of whether we should confine to what others deem acceptable, or discover our unique selves.

The bottom line is that it’s okay to be average, and it’s okay to be unique. Just be yourself.

By the way, my score on the empathy quotient survey was smack-dab in the “average” category: 36. And you know what? I’m fine with that. Some people are just average at some things. I’ll find some other outlet to be unique in.

(Link to survey: http://glennrowe.net/BaronCohen/EmpathyQuotient/EmpathyQuotient.aspx)

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