What ever is it that drives what we believe to be sane, honest and moral persons to suddenly turn into the monsters they do, like the old horror story of, “Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde? (1931)”
It begins with human species survival because that time we first stepped out of the primordial ooze to begin walking upright we found that almost all of living entities out there on the plains of the Serengeti were predatory and held far superior methods of death and harm than humans so we found quickly that banning together as one larger and better equipped collective of beings would mean, “Survival!”
Groups, tribes or clans were born because as a collective of minds and bodies we are better able to defend and protect against all those lions and tigers and bears out there.
Think of the influences involved. First was the hierarchal method necessary for control so things like reciprocity, consistency/commitment, consensus (social proof), authority, liking and scarcity were born even if they didn’t hold those titles back in the time of the Serengeti. Think resources and territory, all necessary to build an environment meant to safeguard and supply the needs of the clan, tribe or group.
Add in things like station and status and experiences then you begin to understand the cocktail necessary to survive in violent times and situations. It further created a mindset that said, follow others because it is the group that survives so if the others are triggering a certain methodology then it has to be right and just because otherwise we would all die.
Like all animals that survive in a group or pack, if one feels fear and danger then when their emotions are triggered they bark, growl or howl and that tells all the others in the pack to “turn the on switch to act accordingly for the sake of the packs survival. BOOM, stuff happens and fast.
For humans it can trigger the freeze, flight or fight instinct but for instance if another in the herd is already in fight mode then others will follow to catch up and assume its justified. Mob mentality or herd mentality or Socially pressured activities - oh my!
That is why research has found that, “We as humans are social primates. We are wired to operate in groups AND to be very concerned about our status in a group. Most of human existence was us operating in small groups and limited numbers.”
Note: it takes a strong mind, a strong self-control skill-set and a morally driven belief system to overcome herd mentality and “do the right thing.” One Marine in a group setting who steps forward to stop a group of Marines ready to do grave harm by stepping in and ending the infection of emotional rage. If not, a woman of substance would have felt the rage in ways no kind to mind and body. It takes guts, intestinal fortitude, and a right mind-set to stop the social pressures to follow the group!
Note II: just consider for a second the many, acceptable, ways we gather into groups to get stuff done, like: sports, competitive endeavors, military, and social collectives like our culture where we all ban together. Look at all the collectives we call styles or systems and how important it is to collect groups to fill a dojo and to make up that system or style much like a clan, tribe or social entity of like-minded folks.
Three Psychological Theories of Herd Mentality:
First is Contagion Theory, proposes that crowds exert a hypnotic influence on their members that results in irrational and emotionally charged behavior often referred to as crowd frenzy.
Second is Convergence Theory that argues the behavior of a crowd is not an emergent property of the crowd but is a result of like-minded individuals coming together. If it becomes violent is not because the crowd encouraged violence yet rather people wanted it to be violent and came together in a crowd.
Third is Emergent-Norm Theory that combines the two above arguing that a combination of liked-minded individuals, anonymity and shared emotions leads to crowd behavior