DEINDIVIDUATION is a concept in social psychology that pertains to loosening of social norms in groups. In another language, it simply refers to the psychological account and explanation of the apparent transformation of rational individuals into an unruly group or crowd. It is more descriptive of "group think" and "collective behaviour" of the lynch crowd, mindless hooligans or the violent rioters. And the obvious question is "What turns ordinary people into mob monsters?"
There are numerous instances when a group of ordinary people suddenly turn into an angry mob and albeit the limited research on the study of this psychological phenomenon, we watch in shock when on an average day, with your regular crowd, something "snaps" then suddenly, hell freezes over.
I reckon it's really simple to understand. I personally have three (3) reasons why it is so easy to lose oneself and become part of a larger whole. I mean, come on, this is no different from the behaviour of mass hysteria watching a "rock concert", is it?
Whilst social psychologists argues that deindividuation is NOT a loss of individual identity but a shift or transition into a social identity, I reckon otherwise. Of course I am taking the advocate's stance, because this mindset makes it easier for me to digest the atrocities that is happening in the world.
Well firstly, the seduction of NO RESPONSIBILITY. I am not solely accountable on how I behave when I am in a crowd. I can fully submerge myself in the group norm, lose all of my self-restraints and inhibitions, become a senseless puppet of whoever is taking the lead, and act in the most barbaric or heroic manner. I don't really have to rattle off countless historical evidences to prove this point, do I?
A very strong second argument is of course, ANONYMITY. "There is refuge in numbers." My own personal identity is fused into the group's identity or the "cause." It is not my face, but the face of the crowd that you see. I am just but one of the mob. When we are opposed, we strike back. We are stronger as a collective unit. We have "it in us" to face daunting barriers raised by people in authority. We are "fearless." Even animals uphold this principle, so why can't humans?
Being in a mob, gives me a sense of POWER. What I may not be able to do alone, I totally can, when everybody else behaves and acts in the same way I do. Any sense of power, wrongly attributed or otherwise, is a very strong push for any individual to go over the edge and risk everything in total abandon.
The complete mix of Power, Anonymity and Absence of Responsibility and Accountability is way too suggestive and irresistible. This is particularly true for idiots or even individuals with weak egos, who don't draw from the strength of their rational mind and ego to choose a better way than to act with a mindless mob. Most times, people don't realize they are shifting from their own individuality into a group norm, until they are way too late, and deeply submerged in the process.
It is a very sad reality, that we choose to behave like savages, become faceless and nameless and allow ourselves to be become beasts. There is no amount of poverty or injustice that can justify decent individuals to act like common criminals and street thugs. The last time I checked, Human Beings still hold the highest tier in the Food Chain and Ecological Pyramid. But when I look at what is going on in the world, we behave no better than an irrational carnivore, a creature, an animal, a predator.
"The line between good and evil is permeable and almost anyone can be induced to cross it when pressured by situational forces."