With the recent riots in London, Manchester, Birmingham, and other locations, it is an apt time to examine crowd behaviour and the ‘mob mentality.’
So, what causes mob mentality?
There are a number of explanations for mob mentality within social psychology. These include:
Deindividuation – when people are part of a group, they experience a loss of self-awareness.
Identity – when people are part of a group, they can lose their sense of individual identity.
Emotions – being part of a group can lead to heightened emotional states, be that excitement, anger, hostility, etc.
Acceptability – behaviours that are usually seen as unacceptable suddenly become acceptable when others within a group are seen to be carrying them out.
Anonymity – people feel anonymous within a large group, which reduces their sense of responsibility and accountability.
Diffusion of Responsibility – being part of a group creates the perception that violent or unacceptable behaviour is not a a personal responsibility but a group responsibility.
The larger the group or crowd, the more likely that there will be deindividuation and diffusion of responsibility.
It is generally believed that everyone is capable of this mob mentality. However, research does suggest that some personalities or circumstances make it more likely. For example:
Adolescents who lack a stable family can gain a sense of identity when part of a group.
People are more likely to take part in looting during times of hardship.
Particularly emotional events such as football matches.
My thoughts are with all who have been affected by these horrendous circumstances.