Have you ever gone along with the crowd and wondered why you did afterward? I think we’ve all been there at one point or another. Called mob mentality, it usually occurs when you get caught up in the actions, ideas, or beliefs of a crowd and follow along with what they’re doing, even if it goes against your own morals and values. Sometimes, mob mentality can lead to positive results if the leader has good intentions. However, all too often, mob mentality can lead to shaming, violence, and destruction of property and reputation. The good news is you don’t have to be a slave to this kind of negative mob mentality. All it takes is a few simple steps to break free. Ready to find out about mob mentality and how to not participate? Here are 25 Crushing Facts about Mob Mentality (and How to Break Free from It).
You lose your principles.
When you’re in a group, too often you will get caught up in the rush of being surrounded by people. You’ll also feel invisible and think your actions won’t matter. After a while, you’ll want to feel part of the group, taking on the principles of the mob. Once the group acts out violently, you’ll think it’s okay, and maybe even right, to act violently. While you might never act violently alone, in a group, you lose that principle.
The mob isn't always right.
It’s easy to believe the fallacy that large crowds backing something must mean there’s validity to it. Mobs thrive on people buying into this myth. However, throughout history, large groups and mobs have been egregiously wrong about what they think is right. For example, a large group of people on Reddit thought they’d found the Boston marathon bomber and were wrong.
While we all are susceptible to the effects of mob mentality to some degree, some people are more susceptible than others. People thrust into dire situations, like Hurricane Katrina, are likely to loot and participate in mob violence. Also, anti-social teenagers without strong family connections may try to find those connections in other places like mobs or gangs.
The size of the mob plays a huge part in whether or not someone will participate. If you’re only in a group of ten people, you’ll be less likely to follow the crowd in contrast to being in a group of thousands of people. For instance, think about the last time you were at a sporting event. Did you do the wave?
It only takes 5% of the crowd.
At the same time, while the size of the crowd weighs heavily on influencing people, a study from the University of Leeds found that it only takes 5% of informed individuals to lead and influence the other 95% in the crowd.