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Diener found that the children were much more likely to steal or display an act of antisocial behaviour when dressed up in Halloween costumes.
This supports the Deindividuation theory as the costumes hide the identity of the children therefore making them anonymous, proving that Deindividuation does cause aggression.
According to the deindividuation explanation of aggression, people normally refrain from antisocial and aggressive behaviour because of strong norms against such behaviour and if they are easily identifiable. Whereas in certain situations where there
is a degree of anonymity (such as crowd) resulting in a lack of constraints, people may behave in an aggressive manner. For example
, Milgram (1964, 1965)
found that participants were more likely to give higher levels of shock when they could not see (or be seen by) their victims. In contrast, when the victim was in the same room, participants were more reluctant to deliver high levels due to the fact that they were identifiable, thus supporting the
deindividuation explanation of aggression.
Deindividuation can be applied to real life situations, for example the football riots in Egypt where 75 people were killed, this behaviour was carried out in a crowd and therefore anonymity was high and the blame was not rested on a single person but dispersed throughout the crowd
Briefly describe and then critically evaluate the concept of deindividuation. How well does the classic theory of deindividuation explain the behaviour of people in crowds? Deindividuation is a theory that has been the subject of much discussion over past
decades, and is to a large extent based on the crowd theory of Gustave Le Bon (1895/1995). Deindividuation is the loss of individuality when a subject becomes part of a group, either by decreased personal awareness or when individuals are no
longer recognised as individuals (Festinger et al., 1952). Many theories recognise deindividuation as a psychological state where self-evaluation and evaluation apprehension are decreased, causing antinormative behaviour
(Diener, 1980; Festinger, Pepitone & Newcomb, 1952; Zimbardo, 1969). Deindividuation theory has been used to understand the transformation of the individual's behaviour when part of a crowd. Le Bon (1985/1995) in his acclaimed book The Crowd: A Study of the Popular Mind suggested that whilst in a crowd an individual's personal
and social inhibitions are decreased when anonymity, suggestibility and contagion are combined. The loss of individuality relieves the individual of moral restraints, and they become submerged within the group and capable of immoral and uncivilised acts. ...read more.
The face validity of the theory is high due to it being very believable, it is seen in many circumstances to be true that when in a group the responsibility of any ...read more.
There is also the idea that the social learning theory opposes that of the Deindividuation theory.
In evaluating deindividuation, much of the early evidence linked deindividuation to antisocial behaviour such as the Stanford Prison Experiment; however, there is evidence showing that sometimes it may produce
(e.g. expressions of collective good will at religious rallies). Research has also failed to distinguish between the effects of the anonymity of those being aggressed against (e.g. the victim) as opposed to the anonymity of those doing the aggressing
The social learning theory states that everything is learnt and therefore it is not down to a loss of identity but from seeing what others are doing around you and copying them. Aggressive behaviour may also not be down to the circumstances were in or whether we were brought up around violence but it could also be down to biological factors
such as high testosterone levels.
The deindividuation theory also takes a determinist view of aggression, pointing out the fact that aggressive behaviour is a result of losing one’s inhibitions in the presences of a group, and to some extent, denies the individual
responsibility for their own behaviour
. It also takes a reductionist approach as it fails to consider other factors which may influence aggression such as biological causes such
In conclusion the theory of Deindividuation is a valid way of determining why some people are aggressive but it does not account for every situation, what if the individual was by them self in daylight where everyone could see, then what? It is this idea that makes this theory only acceptable to a certain extent.
Zimbardo (1969) refined this concept further by defining the input variables that contributed to deindividuation and it's effects. Zimbardo (1969) stated that anonymity and the loss of responsibility were key contributors to deindividuation, as the feeling of anonymity allowed for impulsive, irrational and emotional behaviour
, without fear of negative consequences. This would not have been possible without the input of anonymity, so Zimbardo would argue that anonymity was a key input variable in causing deindividuation. For Diener, the reduction of self-awareness was a key input variable (Diener 1977, 1980). Although Diener criticised Zimbardo's work, he also helped the refine and extend deindividuation theory, however Prentice-Dunn and Rogers (1982, 1989) can be seen as redefining deindividuation theory. For this reason it is generally accepted that Festinger et al. (1952), Zimbardo (1969) and Diener (1977, 1980) have defined the classical
deindividuation theory, whereas Prentice-Dunn and Rogers have redefined and altered the key concept
, so this is referred to as contemporary deindividuation theory. I will be focusing on classical deindividuation theory as it was based around crowd theory (Le Bon, 1895/1995), and I feel is more relevant in this context of explaining people in crowds. Deindividuation is a psychological state caused when an individual becomes
part of a group. ...read more.
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