• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

How well does the classic theory of deindividuation explain the behaviour of people in crowds?

Extracts from this document...

Introduction

Briefly describe and then critically evaluate the concept of deindividuation. How well does the classic theory of deindividuation explain the behaviour of people in crowds? Deindividuation is a theory that has been the subject of much discussion over past decades, and is to a large extent based on the crowd theory of Gustave Le Bon (1895/1995). Deindividuation is the loss of individuality when a subject becomes part of a group, either by decreased personal awareness or when individuals are no longer recognised as individuals (Festinger et al., 1952). Many theories recognise deindividuation as a psychological state where self-evaluation and evaluation apprehension are decreased, causing antinormative behaviour (Diener, 1980; Festinger, Pepitone & Newcomb, 1952; Zimbardo, 1969). Deindividuation theory has been used to understand the transformation of the individual's behaviour when part of a crowd. Le Bon (1985/1995) in his acclaimed book The Crowd: A Study of the Popular Mind suggested that whilst in a crowd an individual's personal and social inhibitions are decreased when anonymity, suggestibility and contagion are combined. The loss of individuality relieves the individual of moral restraints, and they become submerged within the group and capable of immoral and uncivilised acts. ...read more.

Middle

Zimbardo (1969) refined this concept further by defining the input variables that contributed to deindividuation and it's effects. Zimbardo (1969) stated that anonymity and the loss of responsibility were key contributors to deindividuation, as the feeling of anonymity allowed for impulsive, irrational and emotional behaviour, without fear of negative consequences. This would not have been possible without the input of anonymity, so Zimbardo would argue that anonymity was a key input variable in causing deindividuation. For Diener, the reduction of self-awareness was a key input variable (Diener 1977, 1980). Although Diener criticised Zimbardo's work, he also helped the refine and extend deindividuation theory, however Prentice-Dunn and Rogers (1982, 1989) can be seen as redefining deindividuation theory. For this reason it is generally accepted that Festinger et al. (1952), Zimbardo (1969) and Diener (1977, 1980) have defined the classical deindividuation theory, whereas Prentice-Dunn and Rogers have redefined and altered the key concept, so this is referred to as contemporary deindividuation theory. I will be focusing on classical deindividuation theory as it was based around crowd theory (Le Bon, 1895/1995), and I feel is more relevant in this context of explaining people in crowds. Deindividuation is a psychological state caused when an individual becomes part of a group. ...read more.

Conclusion

Classical Deindividuation Theory has defined antinormative behaviour as being antisocial, (e.g. violence), however this is very closed minded and neglects the possibility that this antisocial behaviour may be normal. Nonetheless, assessing what is normal is very difficult and labour intensive, so in terms of the deindividuation paradigm, stereotypes of socially accepted behaviour must be taken as the norm, as it will be correct for the majority of the time. The problem with this being that those participants whose behaviour is classed as antinormative may be classed incorrectly. This will limit the validity of the results. The classical theory of deindividuation is a useful tool in explaining the behaviour of people in crowds as it helps to understand the concept of a deindividuated member of a group. The classic deindividuation theory originated from crowd observation, and many of the core findings are still valid over 40 years later. Although doubts have been raised about the validity of research, it is difficult to create naturalistic experiments in the correct context. And classifying behaviour and results requires the interpretation of the experimenter, which may cause disagreement. Although deindividuation has been the subject of much debate and redefinition over the years, all of the viewpoints maintain the main element of deindividuation as the psychological state that brings antinormative behaviour. ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our AS and A Level Social Psychology section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related AS and A Level Social Psychology essays

  1. Peer reviewed

    Outline and evaluate the theory of deindividuation

    5 star(s)

    This experiment is a clear example of how Deindividuation works, due to the guards wearing the uniform and sunglasses they were not acting themselves and therefore did not deem themselves responsible for the actions as they were acting out the role they were given.

  2. Two social psychological theories of aggression are the social learning theory and deindividuation. Both ...

    Perhaps the most popular is the Stanford Prison experiment carried out by Zimbardo et al (1973). In this study guards lost their sense of identity and acted as a group. They gradually lost the sense of what was right on an individual level, this suggests deindividuation.

  1. Psychology First Impression

    Facebook and MySpace, the effect of first impression might be changed.In order to investigate whether the primacy effect still prevails in today's society. I will be adapting Luchins research and writing my own paragraphs - story 1 & 2(see appendices 1).

  2. Pro and Anti Social Behaviour

    The findings showed that those living in the noise group experienced significant increases in blood pressure and stress hormones. This implies that these may lead to higher levels of aggressive behaviour. In contrast, those in the quiet group experienced no significant changes. This suggests noise may lead to aggressive behaviour.

  1. Is Three A Crowd?

    Introduction the purpose of this study is to investigate the subject of crowding and how uncomfortable an individual feels when they re approached by one/two experimenters. There have been many studies supporting that an individual feels more uncomfortable when two people are walking towards them as opposed to one.

  2. Persuasion Theory.

    How a public receives a message is critical. "How publics perceive the source of a message is a significant factor in whether they accept it" (Newsom, VanSlyke Turk, Kruckenberg, 1996). The deliverer must firstly be credible. However, "researchers have found that the effects of a communicator's credibility diminish over time, be cause members of the audience tend to dissociate the message from the communicator.

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work