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Discuss research into Deindividuation as an explanation for aggressive behaviour.

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Introduction

´╗┐Discuss research into one social-psychological explanation of aggressive behaviour (8 + 16) One social-psychological explanation is deindividuation theory. This tells us that not all aggressive behaviour is interpersonal. Psychologists have explored the idea that membership of a large group leads individuals to behave more in a more anti-social manner than they would on their own. Zimbardo suggested that people part of a relatively anonymous group lose their personal identity and with it their inhibitions about violence. It?s used to explain the collective behaviour of violent crowds, mindless hooligans, genocide and other social atrocities. This is based on Le Bon?s classic crowd theory, which suggests that in crowd anonymity, suggestibility and contagion create a collective mind, which possess an individual and leads to a loss of self-control. ...read more.

Middle

There is research to support this theory. Watson found that in tribal warfare, warriors who changed their appearance more prior to warfare participated in more killings, mutilations and tortures than those warriors who made minimal alterations to their appearance. Watson?s study demonstrated how the increased anonymity, which here was appearance changing, has the potential to lead to an increase in violent behaviour. This also explains why soldiers are made to wear uniform into battle, as it makes them less identifiable as an individual and therefore more likely to achieve the war objective. However a meta-analysis by Postmes & Spears refutes parts of the deindividuation theory as a cause of aggression. They found that disinhibiton and anti-social behaviour is not more common in large groups or anonymous settings. ...read more.

Conclusion

This means the accuracy of the concept of a collective mind is highly questionable. Additionally, research has suggested that there is significant gender bias with in the theory, as it has been found that males and females respond differently under deindividuated settings, as males show increased aggression, but females don?t. This suggests that biological factors may be an influence in aggression, as Dabbs et el found that those with greater testosterone levels, also had a history of violent crime. As males have a higher level of testosterone than females, this goes someway to suggesting why males do react aggressively under deindividuated settings whereas females don?t. It is therefore key to adopt a diathesis stress approach towards explaining aggression, as we may be predisposed to act aggressively e.g. increased testosterone, but the aggression is expressed when exposed to social triggers, such as deindividuation conditions. ...read more.

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