The Baiting Crowd

I believe that the social psychologist Leon Mann was one of the first to describe the phenomenon of the "baiting crowd." He did so in a 1981 article in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology:

We assume that most people are concerned for the life and well-being of others. It comes as a surprise to learn that crowds gathered at the site of a suicide threat have been known to taunt and urge the victim to jump... In my examination of the baiting phenomenon, I searched all listings for suicides and suicide attempts in the New York Times Index for 1964-1979... The following extract from the New York Times for June 8, 1964, is an example of the data source:
A Puerto Rican handyman perched on a 10th floor ledge for an hour yesterday morning as many persons in a crowd of 500 on upper Broadway shouted at him in Spanish and English to jump. Even as cries of "Jump!" and "Brinca!" rang out, policemen pulled the man to safety from the narrow ledge at 3495 Broadway, the north-west corner of 143rd Street.

Mann identified five factors that contribute to the phenomenon: 1) the anonymity of being in a large crowd; 2) cover of darkness; 3) distance from the victim (but being close enough so that the person threatening suicide can still hear the cries urging him to jump); 4) duration of episode (people get bored and restless waiting too long); and 5) hot temperatures.

My theory is that people are okay until you gather them together into a crowd, at which point they transform into the lowest form of life imaginable.
     Posted By: Alex - Sun Mar 01, 2009
     Category: Death | Psychology

"Never underestimate the stupidity of people gathered in large crowds." Not sure of the first place I heard that, but it always applies.
Posted by DownCrisis on 03/01/09 at 12:30 PM
in 'men in black' tommy lee jones says something like- a person is intellegent, people are panicky and stupid- not exact but close to the idea. it's simply mob mentality.
Posted by Patty in Ohio, USA on 03/01/09 at 01:08 PM
lol patty, I had that exact same quote in mind when I read this. hooray MIB.
Posted by Nethie on 03/01/09 at 06:00 PM
glad it wasn't just me.
Posted by Patty in Ohio, USA on 03/01/09 at 06:29 PM
The LA Riots and anytime the Lakers win a championship prove this point.
Posted by BikerPuppy on 03/02/09 at 12:33 PM
The guy on the ledge should have peed on the crowd below.
Posted by kingmonkey in Athens, Ontario on 03/02/09 at 12:42 PM
kingmonkey what a great idea!
Posted by Patty in Ohio, USA on 03/02/09 at 12:55 PM
ah df just the response i'd expect from you sweetie. 😊
Posted by Patty in Ohio, USA on 03/05/09 at 09:58 PM
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