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Deindividuation

Definition

Deindividuation theory was developed to explain the violence and irrationality of the crowd. How does a group of seemingly normal individuals become an unruly mob? According to deindividuation theory, the anonymity and excitement of the crowd make individuals lose a sense of individual identity. As a result, crowd members cease to evaluate themselves, and they become irrational and irresponsible. All of this makes the crowd fickle, explosive, and prone to antinormative and disinhibited behavior.

But, despite a large amount of research, there is little support for deindividuation theory. Alternative approaches suggest that crowd behavior is not due to a loss of identity but to a transition to a collective (social) identity. The remainder of this entry outlines the theoretical evolution of deindividuation theory, summarizes the research ...

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