Deindividuation, AO1 and AO2.

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AO1 - Deindividuation Theory

  • Based on the classic crowd theory of Le Bon
  • He claimed that, in a crowd, the combination of anonymity, suggestibility and contagion means that a collective mind takes possession of the individual
  • The individual loses self-control and becomes capable of acting in a way that goes against personal or social norms
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AO1 - The Nature of Deindividuation

  • Deindividuation =  a psychological state characterised by lowered self-evaluation and decreased concerns about evaluation by others
  • Leads to behaviour that would normally be inhibited by personal or social norms
  • Factors that contribute 1: anonymity (e.g. wearing a uniform)
  • Factors that contribute 2: an altered consciousness through drugs or alcohol
  • Mostly associated with antisocial behaviour
  • Zimbardo: these same conditions may also lead to an increase in prosocial behaviours (e.g. crowds at music festivals and religious gatherings)
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AO1 - The Process of Deindividuation

  • People normally refrain from acting aggressively: partly because there are social norms that don't permit it, and partly because they are easily identifiable
  • Being anonymous has the psychological consequence of reducing inner restraints and increasing behaviours that are usually inhibited
  • Zimbardo: being in a crowd can diminish awareness of our own individuality
  • The larger the group, the greater the anonymity
  • There is diminished fear of negative evaluation of actions and reduced guilt
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AO1 - Zimbardo's Research

  • Groups of four female undergraduates were required to deliver electric shocks to another student to 'aid learning'
  • Half of the participants wore bulky lab coats and hoods that hid their faces, sat in separate cubicles, and were never referred to by name
  • The other participants wore normal clothes, were given large name tags to wear and were introduced to each other by name
  • They could also see each other when seated at the shock machines
  • Both sets of participants were told they could see the person being shocked
  • Participants in the deindividuation condition shocked the 'learner' for twice as long as the identifiable participants did
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AO1 - Further Research

The faceless crowd

  • Mullen: analysed newspaper cuttings of 60 lynchings in the US
  • The more people were in the mob, the greater the savagery with which they killed

Reduced private self-awareness

  • Prentice-Dunn et al: reduced self-awareness, rather than simply anonymity, is an important determinant of deindividuation
  • If an individual is self-focused, they tend to act according to their internalised attitudes and moral standards, thus reducing the likelihood of antisocial behaviour
  • If the individual submerges themselves within a group, they may lose this focus
  • They will become less privately self-aware and therefore less able to regulate their own behaviour
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AO2 - The Importance of Local Group Norms

  • Johnson and Downing: rather than deindividuation automatically increasing the incidence of aggression, behaviour produced could be a product of local group norms
  • Used the same experimental conditions as Zimbardo, but this time had participants wear either a nurse's uniform, or an outfit reminiscent of the KKK
  • Participants shocked more in the KKK uniform than in the nurse's uniform
  • People respond to normative cues associated with the social context in which they find themselves - shocking is more appropriate behaviour for KKK members than nurses
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AO2 - Lack of Support for Deindividuation

  • Postmes and Spears: meta-analysis of 60 studies of deindividuation
  • Disinhibition and anti-social behaviour are NOT more common among large groups or anonymous settings
  • There was also little evidence that deindividuation was associated with reduced self-awareness, or that reduced self-awareness increases aggressive behaviour
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AO2 - Prosocial Consequences of Deindividuation

  • Spivey and Prentice-Dunn: deindividuation could lead to either prosocial or antisocial behaviour depending on situational factors
  • When prosocial environmental cues were present, deindividuated participants performed significantly more altruistic acts (e.g. giving money) and fewer antisocial acts
  • Francis et al: adolescents reported being significantly more comfortable seeking help with mental health problems under the deindividuated circumstances of online chatrooms
  • This is in comparison with an individuated appointment with a health professional
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AO2 - Crowd-Baiting

  • Mann: analysed 21 suicide leaps reported in US newspapers
  • In 10 of the cases, crowd-baiting had occurred (the crowd had urged the suicidal person to jump)
  • This tended to happen at night, when the crowd was large, and when they were some distance from the jumper
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IDA - Gender Differences

  • Cannavale et al: an increase in aggression was obtained only in all-male groups
  • Diener et al: found greater disinhibition of aggression in males
  • Males may be more prone to aggressive behaviour than females
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IDA - Cultural Differences

  • Watson: collected data on the extent to which 23 non-Western societies changed their appearance before going to war
  • Also studied the extent to which they killed, mutilated or tortured their victims
  • Societies where warriors changed their appearance (e.g. through war paint and costumes) were more destructive towards their victims than those who did not
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