HOW CAN KNOWLEDGE OF SOCIAL PSYCHOLOGY BE USED TO REDUCE PREJUDICE IN SITUATIONS SUCH AS CROWD BEHAVIOUR OR RIOTING?”
Remember it’s a Key QUESTION. If the Examiner asks you what it is, don’t write “Prejudice”. “Prejudice” isn’t a question. Questions have question marks at the end and start with a word like “how”.
The exam may ask you to “summarise” your Key Question. This means giving some of the information below.
THE FEATURES OF CROWD BEHAVIOUR AND RIOTS
“Features” means facts about your Key Issue – what forms does it takes, what types are there? (You’re not talking any Psychology here. It’s general knowledge really.) Later you can explain the social psychology behind the formation of ingroups and outgroups.
Crowd behaviour means how people behave differently when in large groups. It is also known as “mob mentality” or “herd mentality”. It is believed to occur because people feel anonymous in crowds and lose their sense of identity.
Riots are when crowd behaviour involves lashing out at other people or property. Riots often express protest or a sense of grievance. The common types of riots include:
Rioters often hide their identity with masks or scarves, but as more and more people join the riot, the risk of being identified goes down. This creates a “vicious circle” and the riot spreads. Riots are often contained when the police are present in enough numbers to increase the risk of being arrested again.
RACIST CHELSEA FANS?
In February 2015, Chelsea fans attended a match in Paris against the French team Paris Saint-Germain. Before the match, there was a racist incident on the Paris Métro. Souleymane Sylla was repeatedly and violently pushed off the carriage as he tried to board the train.
The fans on the train blocked the door, made aggressive and insulting hand gestures and chanted, “We’re racist, we’re racist and that’s the way we like it” and “John Terry is racist and that’s the way we like it.” Chelsea captain John Terry had been cleared of racially abusing another player in 2013. The incident was filmed on a mobile phone by a passerby and also captured on CCTV.
Four fans were later identified, arrested and banned from attending football matches for 5 years. One of them lost his job as an accountant because of his involvement.
Back in England, Chelsea fans raised money for Mr Sylla to come to London and watch a match. Chelsea FC stated: “We certainly hope he’ll take us up on it so he can meet real Chelsea fans and experience the true spirit of the club.”
Describing this incident would be good if you can go on to explain the social psychology behind the fans' behaviour and the Club’s response.
THE FERGUSON UNREST
In August 2014, an African-American youth, Michael Brown, was fatally shot by a police officer in Ferguson, Missouri. Although Brown had allegedly been involved in a robbery, many people felt that the US police were too willing to use force against African American suspects.
A shrine of flowers was set up and a peaceful protest gathered. Tensions increased when a police dog urinated on the fowers and a police vehicle crushed the shrine. 150 riot police arrived with tear gas but the rioters destroyed a dozen businesses and set two on fire.
Riots continued for the rest of the week. Many people complained that the police used military-style tactics against the crowds, some of whom claimed to be using their right to protest against police brutality. Eventually, an African-American police chief Ron Johnson was put in charge. Johnson surprised people by marching alongside protesters in a peaceful gathering.
At the funeral of Michael Brown, the family called for calm. Violence started up again when the prison officer who shot Brown was acquitted by a court and again on the anniversary of the shooting.
According to The Washington Post, Ferguson is a community where two-thirds of the population are black, but in the Ferguson Police Department 48 of the 53 officers are white. It was reported in court that Ferguson police were “twice as likely to arrest African Americans during traffic stops as they were whites” and this had created suspicion and hostility towards the police.
APPLYING PSYCHOLOGY TO THE KEY QUESTION