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Psychology, Mass

  • By: Sarah E. Boslaugh
  • In: Encyclopedia of Disaster Relief
  • Edited by: K. Bradley Penuel & Matt Statler
  • Subject:Public Health (general), Public Policy (general)

Mass psychology is the study of people behavior in groups, from occupational groups to crowds to whole societies, and how their behavior may change when they perceive themselves as a member of a group rather than as an individual. The study of mass psychology began in the late 19th century, but flourished particularly around the middle of the 20th century, when it was invoked to study social movements such as fascism as well as the behavior of people in crowds. Mass psychology is relevant to disaster relief professionals both because the behavior of a crowd may cause a disaster (e.g., a riot among spectators at a sporting match) and because disasters may force people into a crowd situation (e.g., seeking shelter after a flood). Those ...

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