Why do people forget about doing the right thing when they are in a group setting? This behavior can be witnessed throughout the world most particularly at sporting events. We often see acts of violence, shouting of verbal abuses all in the name of a team. This behavior stems from the “us” versus “them” mentality in which “they” are no longer viewed as people and that does not do anybody any good.
Although many people on an individual level are good and moral people something changes when they are part of a group mentality they often engage in behaviors that they would not normally do. According to an article written by Dr. Jeremy Dean for PsyBlog, people are more likely to forget their morals in a group setting because they feel that their behavior will go unnoticed, in other words, they are just a face in a crowd that nobody will recognize. The same article points out a study that demonstrated that people’s brains actually function differently in a group context when compared to an individual context.
I know that I have witnessed this phenomena personally. In correctional environments group mentality is the dominating factor in the behavior of people who are incarcerated. These people are often not given a choice and must join a group for protection but they must also sacrifice everything for the group as well. This mentality leads people to engage in large scale violent acts, as I have witnessed during a few prison riots. This is the type of mentality the influences a person who will get out of prison in a day to engage in a violent riot even though logic dictates that sitting out would be the best choice.
The question is how do we avoid the group mentality in terms of committing immoral acts? The key is self-knowledge if you understand who you are and remember this at all times then you will be able to avoid this type of mentality. It is also important to have a strong sense of accountability, to know what you are doing at all times and understand your reasoning for behaving in a moral fashion.