Pub. date: 2007 | Online Pub. Date: October 03, 2007 | DOI: 10.4135/9781412956253 | Print ISBN: 9781412916707 | Online ISBN: 9781412956253| Publisher:SAGE Publications, Inc.About this encyclopedia
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 to date, and highlights an alternative perspective. Deindividuation theory can be traced back to some of the earliest works of social psychology. In his ...