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Crowd violence


Crowd violence is a phenomena associated with certain type of events, which have been known act as causal factors leading to the actual demonstration of the behavioral characteristics.

Psychological Correlates

The psychological attributes of crowd violence arise from the fact that individuals are primarily spurred to act in certain ways when they are present in certain situations. It is also important to note that in as much as the contribution of individual psychological attributes is a prime factor; there is significant involvement of sociological aspects in the process. “This is because many social psychological explanations of social psychological theories on group processes recognize that people behave differently in groups and tend to assume the psychological and behavioral characteristics of other group members.” This suggests that the psychological attributes are closely connected to social factors as major agitators in the formation of a crowd mentality.

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The presence of an individual in a group setting has been observed to given lead to occurrence of a psychological phenomenon that causes them to formulate a common goal, which essentially binds them into one leading to the establishment of common behavioral characteristics. “In crowds or psychological groups where everyone had one common goal, the behavior of men descended several steps down the evolutionary ladder to the position of primitive people”. In essence, in the group environment the cognitive capacities of the individuals deteriorate significantly such that this raises their capability and vulnerability of involvement in potential destructive and harmful activities. “In this group situation, the individual gains a sentiment of invincible power which allows him to yield to instincts, which, had he been alone, he would have kept constraint…because of the anonymity and consequent loss of personality in crowds coupled with a form of contagion, where normally proscribed acts would be mimicked and enacted”.

The transformation that takes place in an individual when present in a group reflects a hidden personality type of the individuals. For instance, in a certain event of crowd violence the victim ‘Le Bron’ a quite, calm, and peaceful man suddenly became utterly charged and destructive during after the end results of a football match in the presence of fellow supporters who exhibited similar traits. “The suggestibility of the individuals in the crowd led to his control by the group mind, a form of racial consciousness causing him to do things and perform actions that contradicted his moral beliefs. This group mind was similar to that of primitive people and led to acts that were impulsive, irritable, changeable, and driven by the unconscious”. The inclusion of unconscious element further strengthens the factor of individual submission to the group’s psychic control. According to William and Boff (2005) “…researchers explain that each crowd member is cognitively capable of setting the terms of his or her cooperation with the group’s goals. Therefore, crowd behavior is determined by the extent to which a consensus is reached between the rational calculation of the individual members and those of the group”

Biological Correlates

Biological attributes mainly arise due to the presence of certain physiological conditions, which have a direct association with the behavioral characteristics portrayed by persons in association with involvement in crowd violence. In the recent studies focusing on the interactions of humans based on social learning mechanisms, there is an increasing need to develop an implicit and new framework, which significantly includes the role of developmental and biological processes that impact on the currently exhibited social patterns of groups or crowds.

The central nervous system of the human body has been found to play a significant role hence contributing immensely to the exhibited violence acts by individuals in groups. This is especially with regard to the specific physiological changes that take place consequently triggering off exhibited behaviors. “The physiological mechanics of the indicated cognitive changes during escalating anger have been the subject of much speculation. It has been suggested, for example, that small amounts of the catecholamines that mediate sympathetic excitation in the peripheral structures, especially epinephrine and norepinephrine, cross the brain blood barrier and affect central processes…that favor immediate action against threats and dangers”. Hence, the action of transmitted signals triggers of a specific cognitive action in the human brain, which combined with environmental aspects, contributes immensely to violent behaviors seen in crowds. This is particularly because the sympathetic excitation domain, which instantly adapts the individual to respond to potential threats. “It has also been suggested that particularly active areas of the cortex (i.e. groups of neurons engaged by mental efforts) attract disproportional blood flow and energizing hormones”

Sociological Correlates

Sociological attributes of crowd violence can be identified through analysis of the modes and existing practices with regard to interaction, which can impact positively or negatively on the aggressive behaviors demonstrated by a group or individual. “One of the major social psychological frameworks adopted to explain crowd violence, social identity theory, predicts that attributes of fellow members, the way the group members are evaluated, the way members of rival teams fans are portrayed, and the importance of the crowd to individual members’ self esteem are all important elements of crowd behavior”. This occurrence leads to individuals acting in pursuance of a similar group objective, and when formulating response mechanisms to external stressors the group perspective comes into play focusing on the relative connections among the individuals.

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In the course of normal pursuits and interaction, individuals may be significantly exposed to frustrations and stress situations, which prompt them to react in defense. Most of the times the response occurs in the form of aggression through display of potential harmful behavior to the external object or being. “Such impulsive aggression tends to be explained as the result of stress and frustration as external factors…because the immediate circumstances of conflicts rarely, if ever, warrant violent action, impulsive destructive outbursts are better explained as arising out of the buildup of stress and frustration”. These aspects form a major contributor to the currently exhibited patterns of crown violence, especially in sporting events. “This leads to a number of processes that can result in complex group and individual patterns of behavior such as prejudice and aggression towards other sports teams”.

Salient Feature behind Crowd Violence


Gender plays a significant role in the exhibited activities regarding crowd violence. “It is often cited that men are more likely to engage in aggressive behaviors than women…and more likely to express aggressive attitudes and beliefs”. This primarily because in almost all incidents of crowd violence the majority of the participating group are essentially males, while females form a very small percentage. This can be attributed to the defensive nature of the male gender, which is further strengthened by the ordinary society’s view on the male gender as being relatively superior to the females in society. “Evolutionary psychology also stressed the importance of power and asymmetry in gender relations but locates the genesis of such social arrangement in the evolved psyche of men…From this perspective sexual proprietariness is an evolved feature particularly of the male psyche”. Hence, the perspective of the populations regarding the male psyche contributes immensely to the exhibited crowd violence involvement patterns, which is very significant.

Age composition

Age forms as an individual element forms a significant factor in most crowd violence incidents. However, this depends upon the events or the issues of concern. Ordinarily, majority of participants would be institutional based, which significantly includes students, teenagers, and mid ages.


Progressing research activities have attempted to establish the role of culture as being a major salient feature behind crowd violence. However, it has been established that culture plays a relatively insignificant since; individual sentiments are varied in as much as culture could be binding their acts. “Several researchers believe that violent crowd behavior is not the result of predisposition or emergent group norms but instead due to the complex interaction between the individual and group goals” This complex interaction among the group is what actually makes the group portray violence acts in the presence of an agitator.

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Historically there are races which have naturally been subjected to extreme situations compared to the others. Looking at the history of America for instance, the colonial masters brought slaves and due to the slave-master relationship and aggression subject to other races, especially blacks, this significantly served to increase their aggression levels significantly. This aspect has been critically brought into focus by one research names Le Bron. “He analyzed interactions between black residents and police that served as signals to assemble, spatial and temporal conditions that facilitated assembly, and communication densities, and found that they markedly improved the prediction of riotous communities beyond...” Hence, it is critical to note that there is a significant historic predisposition in terms of specific races becoming more involved in crowd violence activities in comparison to others.

Physical space

The availability of physical space for a crowd to congregate and share their concerns serves to raise the probability of them participating in potentially violent activities. “Findings indicate the variables most related to agitator success are crowd suggestibility, the action-choice advocated by the agitator and the probability of movement within a physical space”.  The fact that the availability of space gives them a significant edge to involve themselves in such kind of activities further serves to strengthen other contributing factors. “McPhail and associates suggested that tactical characteristics if rioters and communities would be more important that structural explaining in riots: rioters’ availability in time and space, depending on their daily routines; the availability of gathering points; their participation in mobilization processes and their interactions with other rioters, counter-rioters, and police”.

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