Theories Of Crowd Behavior

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For many years the discipline of social psychology develops different theories and perspectives about the human behaviour, taking into account the ethical issues, but also the challenges of personal safety by making direct observation. Many theories focused their study on behaviour to the individual belonging to a crowd. Researchers have described deindividuation as the process of immersion into a group where an individual loses his personal identity and becomes part of the crowd. Studies on deindividuation showed how aggressiveness and anti-normative behaviour arise within crowds, which are influenced by the situation and the environment creating chaos and disruption (for example rioting and hooliganism). Such researchers tend to focus on…show more content…
Despite different criticism were made about political biases and of the lack of scientific evidence to support his theories, his work had a tremendous success and have influenced later psychology researches. According to Le Bon the individual rationality and behaviour are influenced by the mind of the group ('group mind') in crowd. He argued that with this influence the fellow (already part of the group) changes significantly: most of them lose their individuality and their animal instincts arise which are taken by the group dynamics, i.e. they release primitive unconscious and aggressive instincts which produce disinhibited and aggressive behaviour among people facilitating certain basic features of the crowd. Le Bon suggests that the single, already member of a group became a group mind, i.e. he is affected by a hypnotic influence and he loses most of personal responsibility becoming susceptible to suggestion. Le Bon summed these specific behaviours in crowd ‘contagion’ (Dixon and Mahenran, 2012).
The idea of contagion, even though was elaborated more than one century ago, can be applied today for crowding behaviour’s studies. Le Bon’s theory is important for the understanding of the deindividuation which occurs often in crowds, evidence lead to three different patterns of collective action: ideally as anti-police riots, class riots and looting
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According to Stott is only when individual understand himself from within his own identity that he is able to understand the word around: ‘We can’t understand the world unless we take a perspective on the world and we can’t have that perspective on the world without a definition of who we are’ (cited in Stott’s audio podcast, DD307 module website). Stott argued that this model of identity lead the individual to comprehend how people understand themselves in a crowd, moreover they can interpret their behaviour. Evidence shows that people have both social and individual selves and instead to experience the loss of self (deindividuation), individual shift to a collective sense of self. Stott and Reicher used this perspective to explain crowd behaviour such as public protests, football matches and mass behaviour in emergencies. Reicher demonstrated that crowd members are not anonymous, instead, individuals in crowd share a common identity and they follow social norms that are shared by members of a social group producing conformity to the crowd. He highlight the progressive role that crowds play in challenging social injustices by acting collectively to resolve situation, empowering communities and expressing

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