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The MCAT CARS Strategy Course begins January 28!

Topic: How The Presence Of Others Affects Individual Behavior

Deindividuation happens when a person lets go of self-consciousness and control and does what the group is doing, usually with negative goals or outcomes.

Deindividuation is exactly what the word implies: a loss of one’s individuality. Instead of acting as individuals, people experiencing deindividuation become lost in a group. This often means that they will go along with whatever the group is doing, whether it be rioting, looting, lynching, or engaging in cyberbullying. Some people posit that this happens because individuals experience a sense of anonymity in a group. The larger the group, the higher the incidence of deindividuation.

It is important to distinguish deindividuation from obedience (when a person yields to explicit instructions or orders from an authority figure), compliance (when a person responds favorably to a request from others) and conformity (when a person attempts to match his attitudes to group norms, versus the total relinquishing of individuality seen in deindividuation).

Key Points

• Deindividuation is a concept in social psychology that is generally thought of as the losing of self-awareness in groups. Theories of deindividuation propose that it is a psychological state of decreased self-evaluation and decreased evaluation apprehension that causes abnormal collective behavior.

Key Terms

deindividuation: Individuals’ loss of self-awareness when in a group.

individuality: the quality or character of a particular person or thing that distinguishes them from others of the same kind

anonymity: the condition of being anonymous

obedience: a form of social influence in which a person yields to explicit instructions or orders from an authority figure

compliance: behavior influenced by peers

conformity: behavior intended to match that of the majority

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