Edit SIDE developed as a critique of deindividuation theory. Deindividuation theory was developed to explain the phenomenon that in crowds, people become capable of acts that rational individuals would not normally endorse see also Crowd psychology. In the crowd, so it would seem, humans become disinhibited and behave anti-normatively. Early versions of deindividuation theory e. Diener and others later focused more exclusively on loss of self as the core psychological process underlying deindividuation.
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According to psychologists, one reason is that people can experience a state known as deindividuation. This article looks at the definition of deindividuation, how it affects behavior, and what can be done to reduce it—that is, to individuate people. Key Takeaways: Deindividuation Psychologists use the term deindividuation to refer to a state in which people act differently than they normally would because they are part of a group.
While certain factors—such as anonymity and a lowered sense of responsibility—can promote deindividuation, increasing self-awareness can serve to promote individuation. Definition and Historical Background Deindividuation is the idea that, when in groups, people act differently than they would as individuals. According to LeBon, when people join a crowd, their behavior is no longer restricted by the usual social controls, and impulsive or even violent behavior can result.
The term deindividuation was first used by psychologist Leon Festinger and his colleagues in a paper. Additionally, he suggested that people tend to like deindividuated groups, and will rate them more highly than groups with less deindividuation. Lowered sense of responsibility: Deindividuation is more likely when people feel that other people are also responsible in a situation, or when someone else such as a group leader has taken responsibility.
Being focused on the present as opposed to the past or future. Having high levels of physiological activation i. Experiencing what Zimbardo called "sensory input overload" for example, being at a concert or party with blaring music. Being in a new situation. Being under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Importantly, not all of these factors need to occur in order for someone to experience deindividuation—but each of them makes experiencing deindividuation more likely.
When deindividuation occurs, Zimbardo explains , people experience "changes in perception of self and others, and thereby to a lowered threshold of normally restrained behavior. However, Zimbardo described ways in which deindividuation can lead people to behave in violent and antisocial ways such as stealing and rioting, for example.
A paper by psychologist Edward Diener and his colleagues suggested that deindividuation could play a role in situations like this. On Halloween night, Diener and his colleagues asked households from the Seattle area to participate in a deindividuation study. At participating households, a female experimenter would meet each group of children. In some cases—the individuated condition—the experimenter would ask each child for their name and address.
In the deindividuated condition, this information was not requested, so the children were anonymous to the experimenter. The experimenter then said that she had to leave the room, and that each child should take just one piece of candy.
In some versions of the study, the experimenter added that one child would be held responsible if anyone in the group took extra candy. Children who were by themselves were less likely to take extra candy, compared to children who were in groups. According to social identity theory, we derive a sense of who we are from our social groups.
People readily categorize themselves as members of social groups; in fact, social identity researchers have found that even being assigned to an arbitrary group one created by the experimenters is enough for people to act in ways that favor their own group. In a paper about social identity , researchers Stephen Reicher, Russell Spears, and Tom Postmes suggest that being part of a group causes people to switch from categorizing themselves as individuals to categorizing themselves as group members.
The researchers suggest that this could be an alternate explanation for deindividuation, which they call the social identity model of deindividuation SIDE. However, the SIDE model would predict that the same group of partygoers would behave very differently if another group identity became salient, for example, taking a test the next morning, the social identity of "student" would predominate, and the test-takers would become quiet and serious.
Fortunately, psychologists have found that there are several strategies to counter deindividuation, which rely on increasing how identifiable and self-aware people feel. Another approach involves increasing self-awareness. According to some researchers, people lack self-awareness when they are deindividuated; consequently, one way to counter the effects of deindividuation is to make people more self-aware.
In fact, in some social psychology studies , researchers have induced feelings of self-awareness with a mirror; one study showed that research participants are actually less likely to cheat on a test if they can see themselves in a mirror.
Sources and Additional Reading: Diener, Edward, et al. Social Psychology.
Social Identity model of Deindividuation Effects (SIDE)
Background[ edit ] SIDE developed as a critique of deindividuation theory. Deindividuation theory was developed to explain the phenomenon that in crowds, people become capable of acts that rational individuals would not normally endorse see also Crowd psychology. In the crowd, so it would seem, humans become disinhibited and behave anti-normatively. Early versions of deindividuation theory  saw this as a consequence of reduced self-awareness and accountability.
What Is Deindividuation in Psychology? Definition and Examples
Overview[ edit ] Theories of deindividuation propose that it is a psychological state of decreased self-evaluation and decreased evaluation apprehension causing antinormative and disinhibited behavior. There still exists some variation as to understanding the role of deindividuation in producing anti-normative behaviors, as well as understanding how contextual cues affect the rules of the deindividuation construct. Deindividuation is losing the sense of self in a group. For example, someone who is an anonymous member of a mob will be more likely to act violently toward a police officer than a known individual. In one sense, a deindividuated state may be considered appealing if someone is affected such that he or she feels free to behave impulsively without mind to potential consequences. However, deindividuation has also been linked to "violent and anti-social behavior ". The French psychologist characterized his posited effect of crowd mentality, whereby individual personalities become dominated by the collective mindset of the crowd.
Social identity model of deindividuation effects