Why Being a Part of a Crowd Can Make You Stupid And Aggressive

By M.Farouk Radwan, MSc.

The crazy crowds

If you are a fan of historical movies then I am sure you have came across the scene where a crazy medieval crowd kept cheering for an executioner to kill a person who is totally innocent.

"Kill him", "Kill him" said the angry crowd even though they never knew the man nor any of them had an idea what he did. For the first instance you might think that this kind of craziness only happens in movies but if you opened your eyes well you'd discover that many of the crowds you see in modern days are actually much crazier than those medieval crowds.

Whether a person belongs to a political party, a religious group of extremists or hardcore supporters of a soccer team you will always find irrational and aggressive behaviour.

When religious extremists kill innocent people, when hooligans destroy a stadium or when a political party supports a war that could kill thousands of innocent people then know that its the effect of being a part of a crowd.

So what's in a crowd that make people irrational and sometimes stupid?

Why Being a Part of a Crowd Can Make You Stupid And Aggressive

A psychological theory called Deindividuation explains why do some people become irrational as soon as they become a part of a group.

On his own a person usually refers back to his personal values before committing any action. The fear of guilt holds the person back and prevents him from taking immoral decisions.

when a person becomes a part of a group he loses his sense of individual identity and as a result he feels less responsible for the actions done by the whole group.

Its like becomming more anonymous and so being less accountable for what you do. This is why what was previously thought to be immortal could now be acceptable and even desired.

Whether that person will vote on killing an innocent person, support a war or even destroy public properties he won't feel that guilty as his personal identity has already been dissolved in the group's identity.

How to protect yourself from crazy crowds?

It was found that when a person is reminded of his individual identity he quickly shifts back to his normal way of thinking. A simple phrase such as "I know who you are" can stop a person who is engaged in aggressive behavior as it separates his identity from the group's identity.

What about the crowds that put you down?
Now that you know that so many people act irrational when being a part of a crowd its time to consider not giving any weight to the opinion of the crowds that put you down.

When people join a crowd they become less rational, more aggressive and sometime very stupid. Do you still want to follow the crowd?

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