Digital Genetics

Archive for February, 2011


by on Feb.21, 2011, under Psychology, Society

Thanks to a cross-post from jasco, I found a fascinating and thought-provoking article delving into the concept of deindividuation. According to wikipedia, Deindividation is ‘immersion in a group to the point at which the individual ceases to be seen as such‘ (

According to David RcRaney, the misconception is that ‘people who riot and loot are scum who were just looking for an excuse to steal and be violent’, where in fact the truth is that within a group ‘you are prone to losing your individuality and become absorbed into a hivemind under the right conditions’.

David McRaney writes:

Police and firefighters are well aware of this tendency for crowds to gather and taunt, and this is why they tape off potential suicide scenes and get the crowd out of shouting distance. The risk of a spontaneous cheering section goading a person into killing themselves is high when people in a group feel anonymous and are annoyed or angry. It only takes one person to get the crowd going. Those are the three ingredients – anonymity, group size and arousal. If you lose your sense of self, feel the power of a crowd and then get slammed by a powerful cue from the environment – your individuality may evaporate.

Within a crowd like this many will retain their sense of right and wrong. Some are able to maintain their composure. Many who witnessed these events felt terrible about what happened and condemned those who encouraged the jumpers, going so far as to condemn humanity itself after seeing such a dark display. What they didn’t realize, and what the people yelling didn’t anticipate, was the predictability and regularity of the behavior.

This is going to be hard to believe, but this sort of behavior could be inside you as well. Under the right circumstances, you too might yell “Jump!”

The full article is available via the URL:

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