Deindividuation theory of aggression and environmental determinism

Revision cards on the deindividuation theory of aggression which can be used as an add on when answering a question about social psychological theories of aggression.

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  • Being in a crowd diminishes awareness of individuality
  • We are anonymous - do not fear retribution and lower sense of guilt
  • Aggression occurs because public self awareness is decreased
  • Anonymity leads to diffusion of responsibility and a lack of internal standards.
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Why does deindividuation lead to decreased self ag

Diener proposed PRRR

  • Poor self monitoring of behaviour
  • Reduced need for social approval
  • Reduced inhibitions against behaving impulsively
  • Reduced rational thinking
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How does PRRR lead to aggressive behaviour?

  • In a crowd there is a loss of identity e.g a mob
  • Individual feels less constrained by norms of social behaviour
  • Behave in antisocial manner
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Zimbardo's Stanford Prison Experiment

  • Zimbardo used 24 male ppts to investigate the role of deindividuation in institutions
  • He gave the guards uniforms and reflector sunglasses
  • Sense of power and anonymity from glasses as eye contact could not be made
  • "Prisoners" were treated like them
  • Found that guards created brutal atmosphere
  • Many seemed to enjoy the power and control that came with the uniform
  • Therefore, deindividuation leads to lowered sense of personal identity.
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Evidence for environmental determinism

  • Supporting research
  • Zimbardo - found that females who wore clothing that effectively cloaked them gave higher shocks to stooges than uncloaked. 
  • Identities were hidden so became deindividuated so could act more aggressively.
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Practical Applications

  • Led to practical applications in how police deal with crowds
  • Police aim to target individuals rather than punish crowd. Less deindividuated and more likely to accept responsibility for individual behaviour.
  • Supports idea that environment of a crowd leads to aggression
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Evidence against environmental determinism

  • Deindividuation doesn't always lead to aggressive behaviour
  • People in crowds such as peaceful protests do not become aggressive
  • Might be more appropriate to consider deindividuation as an example of soft determinism as factors such a disposition of crowd and their reasons for being there influence aggression levels.
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