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Discuss explanations of group display in humans 25 marks
`Group display' refers here to displays of aggressive behaviour by groups which are sometimes described as
three or more people gathered together for a common purpose.
Groups are either gathered together for an aggressive purpose or groups hat develop an aggressive
What is it?
A lynch mob is a collection of people who intend to take a person. (Sometimes this is someone whom they
suspect of committing an offence) and to kill that person without recourse to legal action.
Two different research traditions have been applied with regard to social explanations of lynching.
The Sociological Power-Threat Hypothesis
The Psychological Self-Attention theory
Hyatt (1999) `hysterical desecration'
Tolnay and Beck (1995)- racist propaganda
Leader, Mullen and Abram's (2007)
Evidence for dehumanization
Mendoza (2006) key factors in lynching
Blalock (1967) suggests that as minority group membership grows, majority members will intensify their
efforts to maintain dominance.
`Power threat' represents a fear of political power in the hands of the minority.
Blalock suggests that as the minority group percentage increases, so the majority group's discriminatory
behaviour also increases.
E.g. The fear of `negro' power meant that white mobs frequently turned to `lynch law' as a means of social
control. This was particularly the case in the period after the abolition of slavery, when the ensuing social
transition left the white community feeling particularly at risk.
Ridley (1997) suggests that group displays of solidarity and discrimination against outsiders become more
likely when groups feel at risk.
What is it?
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Engaging in painful rituals signals commitment to a group and for what it stands and it has been suggested
that the significant costs of rituals deter anyone who doesn't believe the teachings but wants to take
advantage of the benefits. The adaptive benefit of rituals is to promote and maintain religious cooperation.
Religious displays and cooperative gains Irons (2001) by engaging in painful rituals such as self-flagellation,
an individual is signalling their commitment to a group and all that it stands for.…read more