In similar findings, Silke analysed violent attacks. Just under half of the violent attacks were conducted when the perpetrator faces were concealed. Furthermore, the severity of the attacks were positively correlated to whether the perpetrator was wearing a mask. These findings support Zimbardo’s findings as the more identifiable a person is the more likely they will show aggression.
However, a weakness of Zimbardo’s study was that it was androcentric. This is because the research was only conducted on females and therefore cannot explain why aggression occurs in males.
Nevertheless, Zimbardo also conducted research into males in a prison study providing an alternative explanation. Aggression is more likely to occur if the victim is also deindividuated. In this study participants were either assigned the role of the prisoner or guard. Prisoners were referred by number and all wore the same jumpsuits. Guards wore sunglasses so there was no eye contact, guard uniform and carried handcuffs. Both the guard and the prisoner were deindividuated to become anonymous members of the selected group. Of both groups are deindividuated it’s easier to be aggressive because you do not know the victim increasing aggression.
Similar findings are shown in Nazi Germany and the Holocaust. The Nazi dehumanised the Jews in concentration camps and were treated like animals so made it easier to act in an aggressive manor as they didn’t see them as individuals increasing the likelihood of aggression.
However, it should be noted that this cannot be the sole explanation as not all Nazi Germans acted in this way and can be criticised for assuming we are all the same and doesn’t account for individual differences, meaning there must be other factors that add to aggressive behaviour.
A strength is that research has real life applications despite most research being done in labs because deindividuation also explains aggression from groups like the KKK, who wore masks to protect their identity. It also explains why genocide occurs. If the victims are deindividuated then it removes the element of having to process the killings and can explain bombings and mass killings. Because they don’t know the victims as they are not face to face it removes identification and makes them likely to carry out the aggressive behaviour.
However, explanations are deterministic. The theory of deindividuation explains aggression by suggesting you will become aggressive if you are unidentifiable in a group. However, this doesn’t allow for individual differences as it assumes we all the same and doesn’t account for free will and how not everyone is aggressive. This means there must be other factors that cause aggression not just deindividuation.
In addition, deindividuation is reductionistic. This approach fails to consider any biological explanation such as hormonal and neural causes to aggression. We know that deindividuation is not the only cause for aggression as if it was we would all show aggression but we don’t.
Lastly, the approach favours the nurture debate but ignores nature. It fails to consider that there may be biological aspects. We know there must be other factor causing aggression as not everyone who is deindividuated shows aggressive behaviour and therefore there must be nature aspects.
In conclusion, there is a valuable explanation on deindividuation in aggression. However, the explanations fail to consider any biological factors. Kreuz and Rose conducted research into males and found that there were higher levels of testosterone in more aggressive people. This therefore means that deindividuation is not the sole cause of aggression and there are other factor that contribute to aggressive behaviour.