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Deindividuation Theory Essay Plan
1. Describe in detail Deindividuation Theory. Psychological state characterised by lowered
self-evaluation and decreased concerns about evaluation by others. Leading to increase in
behaviour that is normally stopped by personal or social norms. Enhanced when individuals
join crowds. Zimbardo found the factors that contribute to deindividuation include anonymity
(wearing a uniform and altered consciousness due to drugs or alcohol. Rehm looked at
whether wearing a uniform when part of a sports team made you more aggressive. German
schoolchildren- handball teams of 5, half orange shirts and half normal clothes. He found
children wearing orange shirts played the game more aggressively.
2. Prentice-Dunn claims that it is reduced self-awareness, instead of just anonymity that leads
to deindividuation as people lose focus and become less privately aware and so are less able
to regulate their behaviour.
3. Critical Point 1: This theory has some evidence to support it. Mann found that in 10 of the 21
cases where a crowd gathered to watch, baiting had occurred. Therefore, this links in with
the theory because the individuals in the crowd could not be identified so deindividuation
had happened and so they were less self aware of the situation. As well as showing there
are real life applications for the theory.
4. Critical Point 2: However, this theory also has some evidence against it. Postmes and Spears
conducted a meta analysis of 60 studies and concluded that there is insufficient support for
the major claims of deindividuation theory, for example they didn't find that disinhibition and
antisocial behaviour are more common in large groups and anonymous settings. As well as
there not being much evidence for deindividuation being related to reduced self-awareness,
or that reduced self-awareness increases disinhibition of aggressive behaviour.
Consequently, this shows the theory is flawed as the studies did not find evidence of the key
features for Zimbardo's deindividuation theory.
5. Critical Point 3: On the otherhand there can be a good consequence of deindividuation this is
prosocial behaviour. For instance Prentice-Dunn found that deindividuation could lead to
either prosocial or antisocial behaviour depending on situational factors. When prosocial
models were present deindividuated participants performed significantly more altruistic acts
such as giving money, compared to the control group. This therefore, shows that there can
be positive implications of deindividuation as well as negative ones.
6. Critical Point 4: There is evidence to support this theory from other non Western cultures as
well. Watson found that those societies that changed their appearance prior to going to war
were more destructive toward their victims as opposed to those that did not change their
appearance. As a result of this study indicates that deindividuation can be applied universally
as it has been shown to occur across a variety of different cultures.