So about two weeks ago, I was sitting in my room in Pollack Halls. I had received a message in my sorority group chat that there were rumors of a clown in Pollack. Naturally I locked my door and just looked out the window. I saw nothing. About 30 Minutes later, I heard some screaming and joking around of just a few handfuls of kids. I still thought it was no big deal. Finally, an hour or so after, I heard a ROARING of students running through the residence halls and all over campus. Naturally I thought it was a joke and it was completely entertaining. It began to dawn on me as to why people would be out there if there was a rumored clown on the loose. I understand Penn State does not follow the norms of clown ‘protocol’.
My friend who goes to UD told me they had clown sightings a few days ago. But their reactions were rather different. They decided to go into lock down ( as I would assume normal people would). So whats up with this mob like tactic?
I then began to wonder what exactly is mob mentality. I had heard it in my Psychology classes throughout high school but had never really paid attention to the science behind it.
Picture found here.
First I decided to look at some basic knowledge regarding mob mentality before I get into some research. The definition of mob mentality is essentially, people acting as one by the influence of others. Basically, their identity is somewhat lost and they take the identity of a group. For example, You see a clown while your alone… YOU RUN. As opposed to you seeing a single clown in a group of 100, YOU CHARGE. So, what makes people adopt this sense of power?
According to a site I found here, when people are in a group setting they have no problem destroying property or acting violently due to the fact that they somewhat become invisible or their identity is lost. Being part of a group can leave individuals undetected to a point where they no longer feel accountable for their actions. Now, I am not trying to say Penn State took a violent turn towards the clown, but I am trying to describe the science behind this empowering mentality.
As I think about this more I am curious as to how we measure this ‘rage’. According to a article found here, I checked out some more in-depth science behind mob mentality. First off how could we even measure physiological changes? I found out that it could be done in a magnetic brain scan. I found out that a section within your brain will lit up when ones thoughts regard themselves only. This area will appear dull or dormant in a group setting. The area they look for is specifically the prefrontal cortex. With that being said, during a study found within this article they tested two groups of people. One group was held in a group setting, the other was held as individuals completely alone. They were asked a bunch of questions that referred to judgement.
Some held in groups displayed a more inactive prefrontal cortex. This showed us that people in a group setting did prove they all subconsciously acknowledged the presence of other people and didn’t only think of themselves individually.