Notes on deindividuation

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  • Created on: 08-07-11 17:34
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De-individuation is a psychological state characterised by lowered self-evaluation and decreased
concerns about evaluation by others. This leads to behaviour that would normally be inhibited by
personal or social norms. The state is aroused when individuals join crowds or large groups.
Anonymity and altered consciousness due to drugs and alcohol contribute to de-individuation.
Zimbardo stressed that these conditions may also lead to an increase in pro-social behaviour.
People normally refrain from acting aggressively in public because of social norms and because they
would be easily identifiable. Being part of a crowd has the psychological effects of reducing inner
restraints and increasing behaviours that are usually inhibited. Zimbardo said being part of a crowd
can diminish awareness of our own individuality, the larger the group the greater the anonymity.
There is a diminished fear of negative evaluation of actions and a reduced sense of guilt.
Zimbardo- Groups of four female students were required to deliver electric shocks to another
student to aid learning. Half of the participants hid their faces, sat in separate cubicles and were
never referred to by name. The others wore normal clothes, were given large name tags and were
introduced by name and were able to see each other when seated at shock machines. Participants in
the de-individuation condition shocked learner for twice as long as the identifiable participants.
Rehm- Whether uniforms would increase aggressive behaviour. German children were randomly
assigned to handball teams of 5. Half the teams wore the same orange shirts while the other half
wore their own clothes. The orange shirted children played the game consistently more aggressively
than the others.
Mullen- Analysed newspaper cuttings of 60 lynching in the US. He found that the more people were
in the mob, the greater the savagery with which they killed their victims.
Mann- The baiting crowd. He analysed 21 suicide leaps reported in US newspapers in the 1960/70's.
He found in 10 of 21 cases where a crowd had gathered to watch, baiting had occurred.


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