So what is it? One definition is "doing together what you would not do alone." Wikipedia says
Deindividuation, as described by Leon Festinger and colleagues in 1952, is the situation where anti-normative behavior is released in groups in which individuals are not seen or paid attention to as individuals. Simply put, deindividuation is immersion in a group to the point at which the individual ceases to be seen as such.One of the clearer explanations of the experimental results underlying the phenomena and the societal appearance was given yesterday in the wonderful "You Are Not So Smart" blog. I encourage you to click on over and be amused and amazed and edified.
Deindividuation explains phenomena as diverse as crowd riots, flash crowds chanting "jump" to potential suicides, much teenage behavior, and facebook and blog attacks. It makes clear much of the ugly behavior that happens on line. But the most interesting part to me is how easily the problem can be controlled simply by requiring people to identify themselves as individuals. Any one who has run a public forum that allows anonymous comments versus one that requires a validated ID knows just how powerful it is for commenters to be seen as individuals rather than as part of the faceless horde.
The really sad part is that it is an unconscious feature of all of us. Anyone can undergo deindividuation with only a small nudge in the right circumstances. So what do you think? And which of these two pictured individuals is more likely to suffer deindividuation?
(picture credit unknown)Does it change if they have on hoods?