Mob Mentality Examples

Top 10 Instances of Mob Mentality (Examples)

You’ve heard the advice that you should never merely follow the crowd, rather make your own decisions. This is definitely good advice but it is an extremely hard one to follow when you are in the center of action in a crowded place. Psychologists call this phenomenon as a Herd Mentality.


Mob Mentality Examples

A few examples of what can happen when the mob mentality takes over are:


This happened way back in 1857. Nobody knows why this happened. Nobody knows why the Mormon militia attacked the Baker-Fancher party who were traveling to California and stopped at Utah before crossing the Mohave Desert. Nobody knows why the church members felt at risk by these passersby and attacked them. They disguised as Native Americans, to not be blamed for the attack, and were joined by some Paiute ‘Indians’. The emigrants defended themselves for five days until the Mormon’s held a white flag as a sign of truce. The emigrants, tired and low on ration, agreed to be taken under Mormon protection. But, as soon as they came out of they took down their defenses, they were murdered and buried in shallow graves. The Mormon leaders tried to do deny their involvement in the mass murder and blamed the Paiute but later accepted the blame. However, the Paiute participated of their own accord and the militia was not commanded to participate in the killings.


It is described as a –temporary metropolis dedicated to community, art, self-expression and self-reliance. This festival evolved in 1986 from a small gathering of friends on a San Francisco beach to a weeklong festival attended by more than 50,000 people, now celebrated in Nevada’s Black Rock Desert. The festival has hardly any rules and most of them are mainly maintenance, environmental and parking rules. Because of so much freedom, the participants lose their reticence and soon all of them strip down. There’s also a lot of pressure to join the herd of ‘nude’ people around the fire that anybody who goes there, strips down to blend in.


French Revolution was a perfect example of mob mentality, from the storming to Bastille to the whole period of Reign of Terror which lasted around a year. The Reign of terror saw more than 50,000 executions in the name of social justice. Besides a string of beheadings, the revolutionaries were involved in public beatings, firing squads, weighting victims, tossing them from boats and parading their severed heads across the streets. Not only the aristocrats, but anyone suspected of opposing the revolutionary thoughts was put to an end. All this stopped after a complete year of torcher when the people realized that their revolutionary leader was a murderous maniac.


Almost every sporting event is an example of mob mentality. There are half-naked men with painted bodies and faces, something that would never do in their normal lives. People have stormed into the fields, torn down goalposts after football games and much worse. For example, during the 2011 Stanley Cup championship, the loss of Vancouver Canucks had disappointed their fans so much that they turned over cars, lit fires, threw garbage at police, looted businesses and smashed glass storefronts.


Spring Break is usually a time when the American students tend to go rowdy but it went too out of hand in 1969 in a tiny town in North Dakota. Chuck Stroup was unable to go to the main party in Florida and was really upset about it. So, he decided to stage his own mini spring break drinkathon in the town of Zap. With the help of student newspapers across the country and publicity from the town’s government, word spread life fire and almost 3,000 college students flooded into the little party of 250 residents of Zap. The local bar owners raised their prices to stop the students from drinking but it made the student crowd even more agitated, who, when the alcohol ran out ruined the place. The National Guard was called for help.


At times, we might question as to why ordinary people acted so ruthlessly in Nazi Germany. Yes, one man can be a murderer but why did so many people act in such an inhumane manner. There were around 24,000 members in the ‘Death’s Head Unit’, a special section of the Schutzstaffel that was in charge of the concentration camps. The Death’s Head members would obviously be aware of the things happening there. Psychologically, even hatred and extreme anti-Semitism are not enough to provoke an average person to commit murder. But, if that same person is put in a group of similar-minded individuals with a leader, pushing them towards ruthlessness and suddenly the mob mentality rises up.


If you haven’t heard the story then here it is. In 1692, a couple of girls started acting strange (having fits, grimacing in pain, etc.) and said that witches were responsible for their disease. They accused a few specific women in Salem and after a doctor confirmed that the girls were actually possessed, the town went crazy. Salem officials started arresting anyone who was suspected to be a witch on the basis of insubstantial evidences (allegations from small girls) and soon the town reveled in the destruction of witches. The ways in which they charged anyone guilty was completely bizarre. Anything from a bottle of ointment or blemish on one’s skin could be construed as a sign of practicing witchcraft. More than 150 people were imprisoned, 25 killed, 19 were hanged, a man who refused to enter a plea was crushed under heavy stones and 5 people died in prison.


This occurred between 1947 and 1957. People were hunting for communists rather than the older day witches. The hunt began as a result of suspicious jabbering of Senator Joseph McCarthy and others who thought that communists were hiding everywhere, infiltrating the government and other aspects of the society. However, this senseless rambling evoked so much fear in the citizens that they saw nothing wrong in the government’s actions. The government threw the Fourth Amendment out of the window, broke into people’s homes, and looked through private male, bugged offices, tapped telephones and much more without any cause or warrant. And, nobody considered this wrong.


Rumors can affect the stock market to a great extent. The market has ruled over people’s emotions: fear and uncertainty. The mob is constantly looking for expert opinion and any future uncertainty which might take their stocks down. The herd is always in a state of vulnerability, trying to reach the top and allows the moods of others to blur their judgment.


This is a place where one has easy access to throngs of people who share similar maniacal tendencies but are covered in the garb of anonymity. Virtual gangs on internet forums harass people while gathering supporters. There are harassers who are rude, racist, sexist, homophobic and threatening; who might never say the same things in their ‘real’ lives. Cyberbullying can at times be so extreme that in several cases, it has pushed some people towards committing suicide.

On the positive side, internet mob mentality can also work for the good. Say, when the proposed SOPA act threatened to limit freedom of speech and cause unnecessary internet censorship. Everyone on the internet, from Google to bloggers, participated in blackouts which made lawmakers understand that people would never accept such an act and hence the mob triumphed.

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