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Conformism, Group Behaviour And Collective Identities

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Chapter Summary

This chapter focuses on the effect of groups upon individuals and will - draw lessons from social-psychological research which helps us explain why people engage in mass atrocities. The chapter discusses the experiments by Asch (1955) then looks more closely into the formation and influence of groups and the social identity theory. It describes how groups tend to construct their own social reality and how attribution errors can play a role in such a construction process and discusses how certain psychological phenomena lead to escalating commitments and ultimately to extreme group behaviour. The chapter examines the nature of mass movements as these are examples of extreme conformism and group behaviour. It focuses on several characteristics of a mass movement: the followers, the need for an enemy and the role of a leader.

Keywords: conformism; group behaviour; mass movement; social identity theory



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