According to the Contagion theory, people in many mobs might be influenced by the contagious feeling disseminated among the group. It highlights the importance of interpersonal communication and how emotions can spread in a group context. The notion may cause people to lose their sense of self and become more emotionally charged, resulting in unreasonable and impulsive behavior (Infioque, n.d.).
Personal example: I saw a scenario where a contentious call by the referee caused the audience to react emotionally strongly during a football game. I was initially composed and logical, but as the people around me began showing rage and impatience, I became increasingly agitated. Eventually, despite having a different viewpoint, I engaged in the general fury, chanting and shouting with the mob. The contagious emotions influenced my emotional state and behavior in the audience.
According to convergence theory, people with similar opinions and attitudes tend to band together in a crowd or mob, amplifying and reinforcing their shared viewpoints (Hasa, 2021). The theory strongly emphasizes the function of ingrained views and how social interaction within a group can reinforce those beliefs.
My personal experience is when I attended a candidate’s campaign event. As I joined the group, I realized everyone shared the same political views. People felt accepted and incorporated by the crowd’s energy. The influx of like-minded folks bolstered my beliefs. The convergence enhanced my political self-confidence and pushed me to sing slogans and passionately support.
According to emergent norm theory, a new set of norms can arise from a group’s or mob’s collective behavior when there are no obvious norms or established social order. Individuals inside the group are guided by these emerging norms, which frequently leads to conformity to the perceived expectations of the group (Lemonik Arthur, 2019).
One day I saw a large-scale environmental protest start calmly and organized. As the audience grew, so did the emotions. Some civils disobediently blocked traffic or vandalized property. The crowd accepted these actions even though they were inappropriate elsewhere. Since I was caught up in the movement and affected by others, I was torn between following new standards and maintaining my nonviolent protest beliefs.
No concrete evidence supports the idea that men are more vulnerable than women to the ideas of mob mentality’s contagiousness, convergence, and emergent norm. Individual vulnerability to these psychological states can vary and is influenced by several variables, including personality traits, the context of the circumstance, socialization, and personal experiences.
Several mob mentalities theories, such as contagion theory and emergent norm theory, can be connected to the essay “The Gift that keeps on giving” and the 1999 movie Fight Club. The essay “The Gift that keeps on giving” by Julian Williams explores the prevalence of sexual assault as entertainment in media and the societal acceptance of rape as a plotline. Concerning crowd theory, the constant exposure to media portrayals of rape and sexual assault can contribute to the spread of attitudes and behaviors that normalize and accept these acts, creating a contagion effect where harmful norms are transmitted and reinforced. Convergence theory suggests that the repetitive and widespread representation of sexual violence in movies and television leads to the convergence of societal attitudes and acceptance towards rape.
The contagion theory is equally applicable to Fight Club. In the movie, a group establishes an illicit fight club where violence and destructive behavior are exalted. The main character adopts a more violent and destructive worldview as he becomes increasingly involved with this gang, becoming increasingly impacted by the contagious emotions and behaviors within the club.
The essay and the movie Fight Club use emergent norm theory to explain how new behaviors and norms might develop inside a group. In “The Gift that keeps on giving,” the essay may examine how a group or culture creates new rules that sustain negative habits. These new standards could support the persistence of harmful attitudes or actions. Similarly, the underground fight club in Fight Club establishes its own set of emergent conventions, such as using physical violence as a form of self-expression and in defiance of social expectations.
The 2016 documentary “The Mask We Live In” tackles these mindsets by investigating how boys and men are affected by cultural expectations and gender roles, especially the impact of mob mentality. The movie examines the idea of “toxic masculinity,” which describes cultural norms and expectations that encourage negative attitudes and behaviors linked to stereotypically male values. The documentary explores how males are raised to uphold these beliefs and how doing so can encourage aggressiveness, the repression of emotions, and the perpetuation of negative habits.
The documentary emphasizes how social pressures and the desire for acceptability within a group can contribute to the reinforcement and development of toxic masculinity about mob mentality. Boys and men could feel pressured to live up to the group’s standards, repressing feelings, acting aggressively, and sticking to conventional ideas of masculinity to be accepted and validated by their peers. This mob mentality can potentially institutionalize further and mainstream the negative characteristics of toxic masculinity in society.
Overall, mob mentality can substantially impact the concept of toxic masculinity by encouraging and sustaining negative attitudes and behaviors. Within a group, it can foster a sense of conformity that encourages people to engage in harmful activities to blend in and be accepted. Mob mentality is an important factor to consider when confronting and challenging toxic masculinity in society since it can contribute to maintaining and normalizing detrimental features of masculinity.
Hasa. (2021, February 5). What is the Difference Between Contagion Theory and Convergence Theory? Pediaa.com. https://pediaa.com/what-is-the-difference-between-contagion-theory-and-convergence-theory/
Infioque. (n.d.). Contagion Theory of Crowd Psychology | Ifioque.com. Www.ifioque.com. https://www.ifioque.com/social-psychology/contagion-theory
Lemonik Arthur, M. M. (2019). Emergent Norm Theory. The Wiley-Blackwell Encyclopedia of Social and Political Movements. https://doi.org/10.1002/9780470674871.wbespm432