Psychological Explanation For Aggression (Deindividuation)

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  • Created on: 21-06-12 16:10
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Psychological Explanation For Aggression (Deindividuation) ­ Andrew F
AO1's AO2's
1 Deindividuation describes the loss of any
personal characteristics of identity, which
leads to a change in the thinking of the
2 Deindividuation can be achieved in many
ways, including through the wearing of
uniforms related to social roles and
through the activities of crowds.
3 LeBon first described deindividuation in
relation to aggressive behaviour. He said
that three factors led to deindividuation in
crowded situations. Firstly, anonymity
where the person feels unknown in the
crowd. Second, suggestibility where they
do not process information properly and
are led by the crowd. Third, contagion
where ideas quickly circulated and
accepted through the crowd.
4 Furthermore, LeBon said that this leads to 1 However, some argue that this is a
disinhibited behaviour in crowds where reductionist definition of deindividuation. It
individuals may act against personal has been suggested that there are many
norms. more factors involved in aggressive
behaviour, for example situational factors
such as alcohol or temperature.
5 Prentice Dunn and Rogers refined the
explanation of deindividuation, suggesting
a staged loss of self awareness. Firstly is
the loss of public self awareness, where
the individual maintains their own internal
moral codes but ignores them in favour of
the ideas of the crowd. This is
6 Secondly is the loss of private self 2 Naturalistic evidence to support
awareness, where the individual is no deindividuation comes from analysis of
longer aware of their own identity or ideas, newspaper reports of suicides in the USA. In
truly taking on the beliefs and behaviours the most extreme cases onlookers became
of the crowd. deindividuated by the crowd and
encouraged the victim to jump.
3 However, this evidence comes from case
studies which are unique situations which
cannot be generalised to other populations.
4 Further research on the link between
deindividuation and aggressive behaviour
was given by Mullen, who studied racist
lynchings. Reports showed that the larger the
crowd, the more vicious the lynching. This
suggests that crowds do cause
5 However, this research lacks cultural and
historical validity. Lynchings in America were

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Psychological Explanation For Aggression (Deindividuation) ­ Andrew F
linked to a very specific set of circumstances
that cannot be generalised to other settings.
6 Also, recent research by Marsh has disputed
the theory that crowds cause
deindividuation. Studying football crowds, he
found that there were a number of small
groups that were responsible for
orchestrating the violent behaviour of the
group, rather than senseless deindividuated
individuals. Aggressive acts were planned
and led by strong individuals in the group.…read more

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Psychological Explanation For Aggression (Deindividuation) ­ Andrew F
16 Deindividuation can provide one explanation
for aggression, but it cannot account for all
the complexities of human behaviour.…read more


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