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PSYC 2310 Lecture Notes - Gustave Le Bon, Stanford Prison Experiment, Social Loafing

Course Code
PSYC 2310
Saba Safdar

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PSYCH 2310 February 28, 2013
Crowd Behaviour (Referring Chapter 10)
The History of Crowd
- Gustav Le Bon (1896)
o Suggested that in crowds people submerge in a very primitive mind
o When people are part of a crowd they submerge in this identity, in
this activity that is less than civilized
o He observed in late 19th century in Paris, people who were rioting he
saw people who were part of this riot, they are barbaric, they are not
logical and engage in aggressive behaviour .
Group Mind in Crowd
- Le Bon described three characteristics of crowds:
o Anonymity
You are anonymous in a crowd
People in this collection or in the presence of another, they
become anonymous
When people are not known by their name, their social status,
etc. there is a diminishment of sense of responsibility
o Suggestibility
Compares this notion of suggestibility is like a hypnotic stage
they are more likely to do what they are told in a crowd,
people become a group mind that is very suggestible
o Contagion
Contaigiousness when you are in this group mind, it is
contagious, it spreads n the crowd like a disease if it is
destructive most people in the crowd become destructive
no one assumes responsibility for their behaviour
- Le Bon argues that crowds are negative overall Crowd is a source of a
power and we can control it. Politicians can control the power of the crowd
in terms of their own benefit, or their own goals.
- Collectivistic perspective
Alternative View
- Allport was highly critical of Le Bon and argued:
o The individual in the crowd behaves just as he would behave alone
only more so.
o Individualistic perspective
o When you are part of the crowd, that behaviour intensifies. That’s
what Allport argues is the different. Allport suggested that in corwd,
people reveal their true nature.
[Overlap between two perspectives:
o Both school of thoughts are critical of crowd both groups and views
are dismissive of crowd they believe that crowd is a negative thing
Le Bon makes people mad, crowd makes people bad. Allport says that
mad and bad people join that crowd. ]
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