Black Friday Mobs and Social Psychology

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Every year the stories about Black Friday get scarier and scarier - crazy moms getting physical over Xbox consoles, people pepper spraying one another, workers getting crushed and killed by large stampeding crowds - and the list goes on. A social psychologist might ask themself - what causes these normally sane and well behaved citizens to act so outrageously? Chapter thirteen, Social Psychology, gives us the resources to analyze these behaviors from a social psychological standpoint.
Social Psychology is the study of how people influence others' behaviors, beliefs and attitudes (Lillienfeld, 494). By studying how people influence one another we can understand how large groups of people can adverse affects on the individual. The following concepts help us better understand group behavior:
1) Deindividuation: tendency of people to engage in uncharacteristic behavior when they are stripped of their usual identities.
2) Diffusion of Responsibility: Reduction in feelings of personal responsibility in the presence of others.
a. The more people present in a crowd, the less responsibility each person feels for the negative actions of the group. (Lillienfeld, chapter 13)
By deidividuating and diffusing responsibility throughout a mob of black Friday shoppers it is easier to understand how people can get out of control. Other factors such as arousal and frustration can also lead people towards aggressive behavior.

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This page contains a single entry by kehne004 published on December 4, 2011 6:52 PM.

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