Social Psychology: Mass Hysteria and Cults. (Ch. 13)

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As you sit in class today pay attention to some of the thoughts you may be having and the things may be doing. Are they any different then the things you may be thinking or doing when you are at home alone or with familiar faces? Well they should be, based off this Chapter being in group situations affects the way we behave. Social Psychologist aim to help us understand why we do certain things given certain circumstances or situations in society. Such as why we aim to form groups rather than being alone? Much of social psychology is based off of what happens when people find themselves in groups. I found most interesting within this chapter to be the sections on Cults and Mass Hysteria. Mass hysteria is kind of like an outbreak of the flu, but instead of the flu it consists of irrational behavior. This is a type of social contagion, as the word social contagion suggests, social behavior is contagious. The example given in the book is very interesting, that of the mass hysteria outbreak of UFOs. It is shown by graphs in the book that a greater amount of UFO sightings were reported around the time society became more aware of space travel. Newspapers didn't even get the right description of UFOs down, for during one of the first sightings they were described as being shaped like sausages.space.jpg

Cults are extreme cases of groupthinking, an example of a well known cult would be Heavens gate, where 39 people commited suicide in hope of being taken in the after life to a spaceship the was trailing a comet that was approaching earth. This idea is obviously irrational, yet 39 people killed themselves over just because a person told them it was the truth. I found the ways cults promoted groupthink to be very interesting. These are having a persuasive leader who fosters loyalty; disconnecting group members from the outside world; discouraging questioning of the groups assumptions; and establishing training practices the gradually indoctrinate members.moonwedding.jpg

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This page contains a single entry by swanx115 published on January 24, 2012 8:52 AM.

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