CMST 1a03: Introduction to Communication
Dr. Terry Flynn (Winter 2012)
ITC – Gustave Le Bon :
“The Crowd: A Study of the Popular Mind”
What is a crowd?
• Not a collection of individuals.
• A group of people in which the emotions, sentiments and ideas of all
members take one direction and each individual's conscious
The Law of Mental Unity of Crowds
A crowd does not involve everyone staying in one place, in
proximity to one another.
The Mind of Crowds
• The crowd not only varies according to ethnicity and composition, but
also according to the type of and intensity of stimulus that the crowd
• Fully developed crowds accept thoughts and ideas that might not be
natural to the culture from which the members of the crowd come.
• Individuals in a crowd: putting them in a crowd gives them a
• This collective mind is like the result of a chemical experiment. The
resultant state does not share all of the properties of the elements that combined to form it.
The Unconscious and the Crowd
• The unconscious (primal, emotional, passion) vs the conscious
(intelligence, reason, civilization), for Le Bon.
• In the collective mind, individuality is diminished, so the
heterogenous (diverse) is drowned by the homogeneous (common) and
the unconscious becomes predominant.
Crowds cannot accomplish acts demanding great intelligence.
"In crowds, it is stupidity and not motherwit that is accumulated."
Three Characteristics Peculiar to Crowds
o Individual Invicibility. The individual in a crowd gains a sense of
invicibility because of the number of members of a crowd.
o Contagion. Every sentiments and act is contagious to sucha degree
that an individual will sacrifice his/her own interest to the collective.
o Suggestibility. The individual who has abandoned his/her self to the
crowd will obey all of the suggestions of the person who has deprived
him of it.
“A human in a crowd descends several rungs in the ladder of
civilization.” • Juries make unfortunate decisions.
• Parliaments adopt unworkable laws against the citizenry's interest.