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date: 06 December 2019

Abstract and Keywords

Deindividuation is among the classic phenomena researched by the early pioneers of social psychology. Building on the theorizing of LeBon (1895/1985), deindividuation provided an explanation for aggression in the crowd, a concern as relevant today as it was in the previous two centuries. The theory predicts that behavior becomes more antinormative and aggressive under conditions of anonymity, associated with group immersion, and that this occurs because of reduced self-awareness and deregulated behavior. However, close scrutiny of the deindividuation literature provides scant evidence for the deindividuation process. Revisiting the primary literature reveals at best mixed support for the original claims and many contradictions, often belied by accounts in secondary sources and textbooks. Reformulation and refinement of the theory has not helped. I present a reinterpretation, in terms of social influence by group norms, in line with social identity principles, supported by experimental evidence and a meta-analysis of the original deindividuation literature.

Keywords: deindividuation, aggression, anonymity, identifiability, self-awareness, accountability, social identity, SIDE model

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