Le Bon was of the opinion that when people joined large, relatively unstructured social groups, they sometimes engaged in spontaneous and atypical collective behavior. Le Bon suggests that crowds are ruled by a collective mind, and that contagion causes crowd members to experience similar thoughts and emotions. Freud, on the other hand, argues that individuals, by joining crowds, can satisfy some basic needs for membership, hostility, and so on. Both of these theories are still popular today but lacking empirical evidence we strive to find more tangible theories that can be tested. Several theories have been developed since these accounts such as de-individuation, emergent norm theory and social identity theory and this essay will look at these theories and try to assess whether or not they are better than Le Bon and Freud's theories which lack any scientific basis.
[...] From the basis of both Freud and Le Bon there have been many psychologists who have attempted to rectify the problems cited above and in doing so have developed theories of their own. The most obvious of these is the theory of de-individuation which has developed from Le Bon' blueprint of anonymity. De-individuation means the loss of personal identity and many studies have been carried which support the theory. De-individuation differs from Le Bon's theory in the way that the individual isn't seen as losing the mind to the collective but that the loss of individuality leads to a total loss of control. [...]
[...] Instead, Diener focused, as mentioned above, on self-awareness whereas previously focus of studies was on anonymity in the group and this was seen as the most important factor to de-individuation. Self-awareness means a person is the object of one's own attention particularly ‘private' self awareness which is reduced awareness of one's private thoughts and feelings. This attention on the self, to things such as one's attitudes and norms, increases the capability for self-regulation. Nonetheless Classical and contemporary views agree on the main thrust of the de-individuation hypothesis being that his psychological state of de- individuation brings about anti-normative and dis-inhibited behavior. [...]
[...] Reicher developed his own theory, social identity theory; whereby individuals take on the social identity of the crowd and conform to the normative behavior of that crowd via referent informational influence. This theory does not remove responsibility of an individual's behavior in a crowd situation, rather shows that the control of the crowd lies with the individual as they have identified with the crowd norms and taken them on as their own, and consequently their consent in their social identity as a crowd member. [...]
[...] Freud, whose theory on crowds initiated from Le Bon's places great emphasis on the role of the leader. Also writing during a time of political and social turbulence, Freud was hoping to understand the causes of the very real problems of the day namely anti-Semitic feeling and a tendency to follow demagogues who, to Freud, were obviously untrustworthy. Freud felt that suggestibility was still crucial and that it is an ‘irreducible, primitive phenomenon'. Freud, similarly to Le Bon, believed that psychic factors are crucial. [...]
[...] Paul's riots which occurred in Bristol and found that people identified with one another and because of this they adhered to the norms of the group because they were adopted as their own. Conclusion In conclusion, it seems that older theories such as Le Bon and Freud are relevant today as they provide a strong theoretical basis from which we can develop our own theories of the crowd. However, the very theoretical nature of them is what makes the more recent theories much viable and realistic as both [...]
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