Outline and evaluate two explanations for group display - Sample Essay

There is a widespread belief that people act differently when in groups compared to how they behave as individuals. For example people in groups may sometimes behave more antisocially but become more cooperative and selfless in the presence of other group members. Lynch mobs are a group of people, without legal authority, kill a person for some assumed offence. History tells us that there were 2000 victims of lynch mobs killed in 10 US states in the years 1882 and 1930. The vast majority of victims were African-American males. Among the evolutionary explanations offered for behaviour in lynch mobs i have chosen to focus on the power threat hypothesis, and dehumanizing of the victim.

The power threat hypothesis by Blalock (1967) suggests that as minority group membership grows, majority group members will intensify their efforts to remain dominance. For example among the other reasons for Black lynching’s are: ‘trying to vote’ and ‘voting for the wrong party’. The fear of ‘Negro’ power meant that white mobs frequently turned lynch laws as a means of social control. However, this hypothesis does not explain any other factors, as it solely believes that lynchings are done to remain dominance.

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Dehumanization of the victim by Hyatt (1999) argues that the hysterical dissection of the Black body lynching burnings are other forms of rural killing, the mob attempted to reduce body bits of bone and dead flesh, to a form that was unrecognizable as a human being. This theory suggests what dehumanization was, but not why it was done. This method is highly unethical along with major other issues and would not be allowed in today’s time.

Glucklich (2001) claims that self-inflicted violence is not uncommon during rituals. This is demonstrated in Shia Muslim practice of self-flagellation during Ashura. Some Shia mean recreate the suffering of the martyrdom of Mohammed’s grandson by hurting themselves with chains and knives. Extreme displays such as this contradict the principals of natural selection.

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