Problems of psychological impact in mass phenomena
The crowd as a specific union of people has a number of socio-psychological properties that affect the behavior of its constituent individuals. Belonging to the crowd generates anonymity for a person, the certainty that his actions and actions will remain unobserved, unknown. Hence - a feeling of lack of control and irresponsibility, since everyone believes that any of his actions will be attributed to the crowd, and not to him personally. This leads people to commit acts that are unthinkable for them under normal conditions. Psychological homogeneity of the crowd arises due to equalization, reduction to one level of the basic mental phenomena and behavior of individuals. The intellectual level of the crowd is lower than the intelligence of its participants, so it is extremely uncritical to perceive any rumors, provocations, thoughtlessly succumbed to the slogans, speeches, appeals.
Vnushaemost - one of the most important features of the crowd, related to its previous qualities and explains the unpredictability of its actions. The state of suggestibility increases the willingness of people to commit acts that may be in complete contradiction with their consciousness and character.
This characteristic of the crowd, like mental contamination , is the rapid spreading, the transfer of the mental state of some people to others. The effect of the law of the mental unity of the crowd (G. Lebon) appears, leading to psychological homogeneity, high emotional tension, irrationality of the behavior of the crowd. The emotional component plays its role even in the event of a crowd, and subsequently exerts an increasing influence, making the crowd extremely excited and impulsive.
One of the characteristic features of the crowd is panic as a manifestation of uncontrolled fear, encompassing a significant number of people. Especially acute it takes, when people are together, in contact with each other. It is widely believed that the cause of panic is the threat of great danger to people. In fact, this is only one of the conditions that can trigger panic. It is known that people successfully overcome the danger if they are prepared and organized enough for it, so the main reason for the panic is often not so much the danger itself as the fear of being in a desperate situation. A peculiarity of panic is that both the danger and the hopelessness of the situation are often imaginary, the result of the imagination of individuals who quickly infect others with their fear. The psychological state of people in a panic is characterized by a sharp narrowing of consciousness and the ability to rational actions. Under these conditions, the leading mechanisms are infection (the swift spread of fear) and imitation (behaving "like all").
What can I do to stop panic? The advice comes down to a simple formula: the best way to prevent panic is to prevent it from occurring, because if it starts, it is almost impossible to stop it. In this regard, the psychological and practical preparedness of people for possible critical situations (natural disasters, accidents, etc.) becomes extremely important. If at an extreme moment among the people there is even a relatively small group of reserved, self-confident, experienced individuals, they can stop the panic reactions of others, for calmness is as contagious as fear.
Rumors are an indispensable component of crowd behavior and can play an important role in a situation predisposing to panic. In connection with the underdevelopment of the means of communication during most of the history of civilization, rumors acted as a mass method of disseminating information. The situation changed fundamentally in the 20th century, when information activity became a function of the developing media.
Nevertheless, rumors as a social phenomenon have survived and in the new conditions have acquired specific functions.
The basic law of rumors formulated by G. Allport and L. Postman. Its essence boils down to the following. The spread of hearing is quantitatively dependent on two main factors - significance and uncertainty. The intensity of hearing loss can be expressed by the formula
where K is the hearing (rumour), i - the importance (importance) of the question for interested persons, a - the ambiguity (ambiguity) of information related to the topic under discussion.
This formula means that the intensity of hearing spread varies depending on the degree of significance of the object of hearing for specific listeners, multiplied by the uncertainty of the actual data contained in the rumor. The relation between significance and uncertainty is not additive, but multiplicative, since if one of these factors is zero, then there is no rumor. Rumor can not exist if there is only a factor of uncertainty or only a factor of significance.
There are different groups of conditions that contribute to the emergence and spread of rumors. This is the presence in society of an atmosphere of uncertainty and uncertainty, when people can not fully understand and explain the situation, they do not know what to expect in the future. People are in a state of constant anxiety, and rumors become an instrument of either reducing anxiety or strengthening it. To prevent and mitigate the influence of rumors, it is important to comply with several requirements:
1) not allow the rise of a high level of uncertainty and anxiety in society;
2) to organize targeted information support of the population, so as not to create conditions for conjectures and fictions;
3) if the hearing has already arisen, you should not only refute it and give evidence and reliable facts, but also the anxiety that it gave birth.
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