Account for Public Disorder Events


The study of psychology extends towards various topics which are the fundamental perspectives used to comprehend behaviour. The aim of psychology is to provide tangible behavioural predictions by studying its causes. Based on the conception that individuals vary and react differently to situations; arriving at predictions becomes a challenge (Luyten et al., 2017). Besides, the prediction of behaviour is difficult because behaviour ascends from various factors which might not be always interdependent. Additionally, human behaviour is inspired by factors which may be outside self-conscience thus understanding them becomes challenging. It is for this conceptions that Averill (2018) proposed that predictions proposed by psychologists and other scientists are merely probabilistic. This work intends to investigate how social psychology theories and related literature inspires public disorder events. In the historical contexts where public disorder events have been recorded, the situations consequently inspire a necessity to venture into literature and draw out wisdom which can then influence policies of curbing the same trends.


The Focus of Social Psychology

Davis (2018) observes that throughout historical, social psychology has striven to understand the social dynamics of daily life. In Davies’s conception; social psychology is the scientific study of how people think, influence and associate with one another. Fiske (2018) contended with him that social psychology has sought to understand how peoples’ feelings, behaviours and thoughts are influenced by the real, implied or imagined presence of others. Social psychologists thus investigate human conduct by vesting into how social situations and mental states accounting to public disorder events, aggression or social disorders.

Social psychologists concentrate on how individuals interpret or construe situations and how these interpretations impact their thoughts, behaviours and feelings. The pursuit of social psychologists then is to study people’s social and situational contexts and how these variables influence behaviour. According to Eron (1994), individuals’ thoughts, behaviours and feelings are impacted by social situations. The scholar argued that people will change their reputations and traits to suit their immediate social situations. In the event that individuals in a given place are subjected to new and familiar situations, Eron argued that the people will tend to absorb cues from the immediate people around them. It is in on this preposition that Gross and McIlveen (2016) submitted that public disorder events witnessed are anchored on the social fabrics characterizing the area. The elements of ancient social structures which have been implanted within society actualizes the probabilities that new generations will embrace them; and even pass them down to other coming generations.

The literature of social psychology has discussed psychological topics at both interpersonal and intrapersonal levels. Whereas intrapersonal topics deals with factors such as individual emotions, and attitudes; interpersonal topics unravels aspects related to groups such as attraction, group hooliganism and aggression. Social psychology also studies cognitive biases (fundamental attribution, self-serving error, actor-observer bias) which impacts individual behaviour and perceptions of various events on our disposal.

Since its conception social psychology has continually been connected to social upheavals such as social revolution, war and economic crises Reich (1982) noted that throughout the history of social psychology, both applied and theoretical aspects have been ever present. Passer and Smith (2004) recorded a broad spectrum of applied processes and activities in America psychology before 1930, including contributions to business, advertising, mental hygiene movement, and industry. Social psychologists have studied the concepts of attitude formation, roles of attitude, attitude changes and the link between attitudes and behaviour. As a result, Smith, & Pettigrew (2015) established that that people are influenced by the situation and that general attitudes are not impeccable determinants of particular behaviour. Thibaut (2017)’s study proposed that attitudes which are well-remembered and fundamental to our self-concept have high probability of influencing our behaviour.

Psychodynamic Perspective

This theory was proposed by Sigmund Feud (1856-1939) and his colleagues (Jarvis, 2004). The theory is a robust blueprint for understanding human behaviour by focusing on the role of feelings, unconscious thoughts and memories. Feud conceived the theory following a series of analysis of patients which he treated in his clinical practice. Freud became convinced that majority of the challenges which his patients went through were within the spectrum of anxiety, sexual dysfunction, and depression and that these challenges ascended from painful childhood experiences which the victims no longer remembered (Krahé, 2013).

Dancing to the tune of Feud, other psychologists such as Karen Horney, Alfred Adler, Carl Jung and Erik Erikson believed that it is possible to assist patients if the unconscious drives can be recalled especially through extensive exploration of a person’s past ordeals and experiences. These explorations are achieved through dream analysis and talk therapy through the process of psychoanalysis. Luyten et al., (2017) s’ work recognized that Feud’s theory was impactful on the area of human conduct. The role of the unconscious in human behaviour, the conception that early experiences are crucial; and psychoanalysis therapy has become integral tenets in improving human lives; by nursing permeation of public disorder events.

Cognitive and Intrapersonal Social Psychology

Cognitive and intrapersonal social psychology was conceived following the work of Germain psychologist Wilheim Wundt (Passer, & Smith, 2004). This framework seeks to unveil how internal processes impact a person’s ability to relate and interact with other people in the society. Cognitive internal processes such as perception, memory and decision making; and physiological processes such as neural and chemical activities are studied. Scott (2016)’s study founded a positive corelation between internal breakdowns in peoples’ perception, memory and decision making and concluded such breakdowns have significant impact in inducing public disorder events.

Galinh and Pais-Ribeiro (2011) s’ study focusses on how interactions are impacted by an individual’s inner processes. Cognitive and intrapersonal approach focuses on how people record and store oinformation inside their cognitive domains in forms of schemas. Williams (2017) proposed that schemas are accountable to the way in which a person identifies objects in the environment by branding them convenient labels which consequently allows for categorization of the objects. The applicatioon of schemas enables persons to synthesize billion traces of information from their immediate environment which then facilitate them to easily interact.

Tedeschi and Felson (2016) proposes that the more acurate people understand any given social situation, the more easy and successful will be the interactions; thus minimized social disorders. Based on this conception; it is therefore failure to understand various social situations due to failure to efficiently label and categorize these social situations that the outbreak of public disorder events become actualized. Spears (2017) maintains that cognitive approach vests on how the parts of the human brain associated with memory, decision making and perception affect the person’s capacity to comprehend the information which is fundamental to social interactions. Cognitive approach also unravels how variations in cognitive activities result to differences in individuals’ capacities to interact. Dodes and Dodes (2017) studied the inticacies of memory and concluded that people categorize events and situations previousily encountered. This study inspired scientist to understand the type of schema build and applied in particular cultures, groups and settings.

Theoretical ideas linked to mastering schemas and memory encompass stereotypes and self fulfilling prophecy. In the study of perception, psychologists are concerned with exploring how individuals’ interpretation of information from their surroundings influence their interactions with one another. Additionally, the study of perception investigates the meanings which people associate wuith groupings in which situations, events and people are placed. According to Rock (2016), the key theoretical ideas with theoretical approach while studying interactions are; peoples’ attributions while judging others, and the results of the actions and the errors in the attributtions people make.

Decision making research vetures into how memories, schemas and perceptions influence mannersism which people make decisions in their own doings. The decisions made have direct effect whether on not the person is ready to interact with a person as opposed to another. The decisions equally have the impact on the quality of the interactions happening (King, 2016).

Whereas the cognitive approach establishes internal processes impacting the quality of interactions, physiological approach unveils how particular chemical and biological processes affect a person’s capacity yto induce enough and useful schemas, apply their memory, perceive situations correctly and consequently make sound decisions (Wills, 1981). The physiological approach in the realms of intrapersonal and cognitive perspectives is not integrated into the discussions on social psychology since its theoretical focus does not relate to social interactions. However, contemporary developments in this philosophy associate it with cognitive approach thus actualizing its inclusion in the discussion (Sherif, 2015).

Interactionism Symbolic Theory

This theory is anchored on Hebert Mead’s discussions of the mind; concerning what makes human beings social creatures. According to Blumer (1986), symbolic interactionism focuses on studying meaning underlying social interactions concerning how these interactions are build and maintained; and how a person can learn such meanings. Proponents to this model maintained that individual interactions results into the induction of social institutions and social organizations. In this regard, Blumer (1986) argued that in order to master human conduct; one ought to discover interactions which shape and maintain society. Three major theoretical approaches have been proposed in symbolic interactionist namelly; symbolic interactionist, phenomenological and life course perspectives (Hewitt & Shulman, 1979).

Smbolic interactionism approach echoes Mead’s authentic ideologies on social psychology and emphasizes on exploring ways in which meanings are abducted and maintained from social interactions (Blumer, 1986). This conception presumes that people have the capacity to construct and manage meanings through their identities and roles they play and depending on the individuals they associate with in their immediate environments. Classical symbolic interactionist studies include the work of Herbert Blumer, Charles Horton Cooley, and Manford Kuhn. Blumer expounded on Mead’s discussion of the social self-examining itself as an object outside the individual, while Cooley focused on explaining the process in which the self recognizes itself as an object (Carter & Fuller, 2016). Kuhn’s submissions shed light on unique dimensions of the self as an approach of defining people’s capacities to take on various identities depending on the contexts and actors involved.

Phenomenological approach germinated from European philosophy Sociology to echo how meanings refer to unstated normative anticipations for relationships. This perspective presumes that verbal and nonverbal languages are the representation of formal and informal rules which spearhead social interactions and societal fabrics (Denzin, 2016). The life course perspective of symbolic interactionism majors on how human beings learn the meanings linked with relationships throughout life and the phases which reflect such learning intrigues. This perspective maintains that the rules, norms and values guiding interactions and shaping our societies are subject to change throughout people’s lives, especially when they migrate to new environments and social positions (Denzin, 2016).

Social Learning Theory

Social learning theory ascended from operant conditioning. According to Bandura (1978), the theory considers the impact of observing other individuals being rewarded and how this observation shapes personal behaviour. According to this conception, public disorder events can be learned by merely observing and imitating aggressive characteristics of other persons. Albert Bandura (1978) developed Social Learning Theory who applied the term “modelling” to exemplify how human can rapidly learn aggressive characteristics and integrate them into behaviour.

Bandura proposed that public disorders traits can be directly learnt without the instigations of reinforcement. In the event that aggression stands a chance of awards, this situation will trigger people want to embrace deviant acts which consequently conceive public disorders (Neuman et al., 2017). Bandura and his colleagues conducted a series of experiments using the Bobo doll and concluded that human behaviour is shaped by the sociocultural processes of learning. Bandura demonstrated that rewarding behavioural characteristics of the models he used in the experiment motivated the imitation of it (vicarious reinforcement) (Bandura 1978).

Social learning theory has been instrumental is defining the genesis of social deviance. The theory has demonstrated why the young population might imitate aggressive behaviour, by virtue of coping role models such as film and television personalities. However, Geen, and Donnerstein (1998) critiques the theory by proposing that it fails to take into consideration various biological parameters such as genetics, neuro-anatomical and bio-chemical factors which potentially affect deviance, public disorder and aggression. Passer and Smith (2015) contented on the role of these biological factors in influencing behaviour when they discovered a group of brain cells (mirror neurons) which becomes excited when we perceive a person performing an act in the same way as if we were doing it. The mirror neurons enable us to experience that which other people are doing and this discovery has significantly influenced social learning of aggression.

Deindividuation Perspective

Diener (1979) study suggested that when people are in a crowd, they are inclined to let go their sense of individual identity and claim the identity of the group. This conviction consequently seduces them into committing crimes or any other public disorders that they would not have committed as an individual. When people get assimilated into other peoples’ identities, their aspects of public self-awareness and private self-awareness are compromised (de-individuation). According to Manolchev, Saundry, and Lewis (2018), de-individuation is the process of reduced self-assessment and awareness in contexts where identification a person is almost impossible or difficult. Consequently, any circumstance which threatens a person’s individual identification ensures that the changes in the normal behavioural standards occur.

Decety and Cacioppo (2011) vividly demonstrates that that sensory overloads disoriented consciousness, levels of reduction and arousal of responsibility had a likelihood of increasing antisocial behaviour. Postmes and Spears (1998) performed a naturalistic observation of 1,300 trick -or- treating infants in the United States. Postmes, & Spears (1998) concluded that when infants where in big group formations; and wearing costumes concealing their identities, they were highly prone to antisocial activities such as stealing sweets and money. The scholars concluded that operating in a group lowers the chances of individual identification which consequently permits deviation from normal standards.

On the same vein, Silke (2003) analysed about 500 rigorous attacks in Notheren Ireland. Silke concluded that out of the five hundred; two hundred and six attacks were conducted by individuals wearing some form of disguise to hide their identities (Reicher et al., 2016). Silke realized that the severity of the incidents sustained was associated to if the perpetrators were masked or not. This study then inspired an idea that aggressive acts can be defined by the de-individuation theory. Postmes and Spears (1998) showed masked people such as those wearing hat and dark glasses are more prone to save violent situations such as those in which people are under invasion. However, Overbeck, Neale, and Govan (2010) dissented in his submission that not all people in a group can perform aggressive acts; and therefore de-individuation will not always breed forth public disorders

Relative Deprivation

The theory of relative deprivation was proposed by Stouffer in 1950, basing it on the work of Hovland and Sears (1940) who noted that recession in America during 1930s was characterized by lynching and anti-black violence (Mishra & Carleton, 2015). Stouffer acknowledged that comparisons between groups yield feelings of difference which then forms the basis for public disorders and antisocial behaviour (Pettigrew, 2015). Inequalities characterizing groups is a causative agent of hostility between them and evidently; history has recorded many riots revolving around such groups including; Notting Hill, London, 1958, The race riots of Chicago, 1919, Los Angeles 1992, The riots of London 2011 and Handsworth, Birmingham, 1981. The genesis of public disorder ascends when one group perceive the other and feel that they should have access to their conditions too (wages, job opportunities and security) (Pettigrew, 2015).

Runcimann (1966) identified two major subsets of relative deprivation namely fraternalistic relative deprivation and egoistic relative deprivation. Relative deprivation permeates when groups or individuals subjectively view themselves as unfairly treated relative to others deemed as possessing common characteristics and deserving similar rewards. In contrast, absolute deprivation occurs when biological health is impaired or where comparative degrees of wealth are compared on the ground of objective differences (Walker and Smith, 2002).

The contentious issues arising from relative deprivation has been applied to define radical politics (right or left) messianic religions, industrial disputes, social movements and crimes and deviance. Walker and Smith (2002) suggested that social mobility (transition up and down a class system) is one of the prospects which can be employed to reduce the impacts of relative deprivation. Pettigrew (2016) critiqued the theory and identified its major flaw as having very little inspiration about how to choose and decide the group to compare ourselves with. The scholar maintained that there are cognitive processes at work concerning of comparison and self-perception.

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The intricacies of social psychology have been historically applied to understand human conduct; and consequently helping in understanding the genesis of social disorders and related public disorder events. The study of factors which affect behaviour is not easy based on the prepositions that behaviour can be triggered by factors beyond self-conscious and that these factors varies from one individual to another. However, there has been no shortage of theories on the subject of social psychology. As discussed in this essay, psychodynamic theory, Cognitive and Intrapersonal Social Psychology, Interactionism Symbolic, social learning theory, deindividuation and Relative Deprivation are influential in deriving probabilistic; but yet concrete insights concerning the geneses of public disorder events; which can then be used as a blueprint for prevention measures. Created by Albert Bandura, social learning theory initially as a behaviourist model has developed to integrates thought processes thus making it a cognitive theory; and has been critical in proposing that people can adopt social disorder behaviours through observation, modelling or imitation. The stated theories have all been tested and critiqued, but generally have been accredited positive reception in through their quests to provide frameworks for understanding social behaviours.


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