Deindividuation – How the Presence of Others Affects Individual Behavior (PSY)

by Tarry Ahuja, PhD

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    00:00 Okay, so, another process to consider is Deindividuation.

    00:05 Now, what’s happening here is, we have a withdrawal.

    00:10 So, we say, deindividuate, meaning you’re withdrawing your individual behavior.

    00:14 And to a say it as decreased state of self-evaluation.

    00:18 So, it’s defined as a psychological state of decreased self-evaluation and low sense of responsibility causing disinhibited behavior.

    00:27 It’s a lot of words there, let’s break that down.

    00:30 So we’re saying is, you’re actually or putting yourself in a different state of mind that’s removing yourself from normal responsibility.

    00:38 And because you’re no longer responsible for what you’re doing, you end up doing things that are a little bit outside of the norm; maybe a little bit more on the deviant side of things.

    00:47 And this is really common when there is a high degree of arousal and a low sense of responsibility.

    00:54 So in a case where you’re really worked up, and you might not get in trouble for what you’re doing ‘coz it might be kind of hard to individually prosecute and find out who did what.

    01:04 So examples, like, are after a sporting event or when you’ve been drinking and you’re at a party and all of a sudden a fight or something breaks out and you decide to maybe get involved because it’s late, it’s dark, there’s a lot of people, you’ve been drinking, you have a lower sense of responsibility and you think that you might not get caught and there’s a higher level of arousal you’re worked up.

    01:27 At a sporting event it’s a double double; so you’ve been drinking and you’re worked up.

    01:31 You’re team just won or loss.

    01:33 You’ve seen this a lot of times, so the winner of a championship cup, you think that the people they’re going to be really happy and they are happy but they are highly aroused, highly activated, they may have been drinking, and they’re in a large crowd and they start riding.

    01:46 Vice versa, the team loses, they are quite upset, they’ve been drinking but they are highly activated, same thing.

    01:52 So it almost doesn’t really matter about the outcome, it’s more about the state.

    01:56 Now, here’s some contributing factors: Group size; if there’s a very large crowd, you can get lost in the crowd.

    02:05 Again, you are moving yourself as an individual and you are bleeding into the group.

    02:09 Now, is there a magic number where they say, if it’s only five people you won’t do it and if it’s eight, you will.

    02:15 There’s no real magic number, it’s very situational, it kind of depends on the group that you’re with and what the social context is.

    02:21 But the end of the day, what I want you to remember is that the larger the size is, the easier it is to get lost in that crowd.

    02:28 Another kind of tool that’s used is Physical Anonymity, And that’s when you use things like masks, costumes and face paint to again, you’re removing yourself, your individual self from the scenario because you have a mask on.

    02:43 So, we call it the Spiderman phenomena where you put that on and all of a sudden you’re Spiderman and you can do anything you want; and you can put on a mask and call yourself MCAT man and you’re going to ace that MCAT exam.

    02:54 It’s because you’ve now put on this face and allows you to think and act in a different way.

    03:00 Again, removing that sense of responsibility and removing that sense of individualization.

    03:04 And the last thing which I already mentioned is that Arousing Activities; drinking, sporting events, large groups and parties, protests.

    03:12 These things really gets you going, gets you amped up and it makes a lot easy to disinhibit and do these different things.

    03:21 Another great example or some experiments done by Zimbardo, and this is a classic key, a prison study.

    03:27 What he did in this study is he took a group of students and these are individuals who were not prisoners and not prison guards but they were put in this prison environment and they’re saying, okay, half of you are going to act like a prison guard and the other half of you are going to act like the prisoner.

    03:44 And, they started watching and then the social context and this differentiation in terms of rules and see how people start acting.

    03:52 And also they realized, the people that were acting like the prisoner’s guards started acting like the prison guards.

    03:59 And they have the outfits on, the hat, the beating stick, and they started actually enforcing law and beating and torturing the prisoners ‘coz they weren’t listening.

    04:08 and the prisoners started acting deviant and started acting like prisoners.

    04:12 Again, they took on a role; it was a situation that was different, they’re in a group.

    04:17 and they’re removing themselves individually from a normal process.

    04:21 And as a result, you see that process of deindividuation.

    04:25 Another example is alcohol, I’ve mentioned that already a couple of times.

    04:28 And so we should know that alcohol is a disinhibitor.

    04:31 And they can allow you to do things that you might not normally do removes that individuation.

    04:36 They are observing removes that individual behavior from the equation it allows you to think outside of the norm.

    About the Lecture

    The lecture Deindividuation – How the Presence of Others Affects Individual Behavior (PSY) by Tarry Ahuja, PhD is from the course Social Processes That Influence Human Behavior.

    Included Quiz Questions

    1. Psychological state of decreased self-evaluation and low sense of responsibility causing disinhibited behavior
    2. Psychological state of increased self-evaluation and low sense of responsibility causing disinhibited behavior
    3. Psychological state of low sense of responsibility due to a large number of onlookers
    4. Protection from liability if there are unintended consequences of an individual's efforts to help an injured person
    5. Tendency for people to perform differently in the presence of others versus alone
    1. A large group of people at a concert
    2. Yoga class
    3. Individual counseling session
    4. Meeting between physicians
    5. Study session
    1. Anonymous online commentators to a video
    2. Classroom debate
    3. Apartment co-renters
    4. Individuals smoking cigarettes
    5. Individuals using opioids

    Author of lecture Deindividuation – How the Presence of Others Affects Individual Behavior (PSY)

     Tarry Ahuja, PhD

    Tarry Ahuja, PhD

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