Essay on Crowd Psychology

1509 Words Mar 22nd, 2013 7 Pages
Part 1: Essay

This essay will explore how deindividuation theory might explain the looting behaviour that can sometimes accompany crowd riots. The core concepts and assumptions of the deindividuation theory will be critically evaluated. The potential strengths and limitations of this theory will be considered, as an explanation of crowd looting. The social identity approach on crowd behaviour will be used in contrast of the deindividuation approach. Research and evidence will be used from social psychology to formulate an argument.

Deindividuation theory has been used to understand the transformation of the individual's behaviour when part of a crowd. Gustav Le Bon (1885) was the first to recognise how an individual's behaviour
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Additionally, Le Bon appears to provide too much emphasis on violence and possibly exaggerates the rate to which individuals are willing to be antisocial. Reicher (2001) observed how the psychology of crowds has been based on observers viewing the masses from the outside with alarm.
Zimbardo’s (1969) classic paper was named: The human choice: individuation, reason and order versus deindividuation, impulse and chaos. This view appears negative and anticipates that antisocial and aggressive behaviour will occur when a crowd immerges. Theorists such as Rude (1981) and Thompson (1985) have brought attention to the fact that crowds can promote a positive change. Many protests and marches to particular events, policies or situations have enacted the desired change that many of us can now enjoy.
Festinger et al (1952) looked to see what effect deindividuation has on individuals in a group. Festinger et al believed that the state of deindividuation became possible when the individual is not recognised as an individual, but as a member within a group. This increased the likelihood of the member's inner restraints and inhibitions being reduced. Whilst within a group, the members have a collective identity and are no longer subject to individual scrutiny and associated accountability for their acts. This unaccountability appears to free the individual of the guilt of their actions, giving

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