Mob mentality is a phenomenon in which people follow the actions and behaviors of their peers when in large groups. Examples of mob mentality include stock market bubbles and crashes, superstitions and rioting at sporting events. Historical examples of mob mentality include the Holocaust and the Salem Witch Trials.
Psychologists say it is human nature to follow the crowd. In many instances, following the crowd serves a positive function. It is often wise to take advice from people who are more knowledgeable. However, this natural human tendency can turn violent and destructive when in large crowds. The two main determining factors of mob mentality are deindividuation and the size of the crowd. Deindividuation is a phenomenon where people lose self-awareness and start to identify with the crowd. Deindividuation occurred during the Holocaust when people were identified as Nazis and Jews instead of individuals. Many of the individuals involved in the Holocaust would never personally commit murder, however when they identified as one group, they were capable of many atrocities. In addition, people are more likely to act outside of social norms when they are in a large crowd. For example, when a person throws a bottle at a large sporting event, it is relatively easy to remain anonymous and escape the consequences. The lack of personal identity combined with a lack of personal responsibility drives large crowds to violence and chaos.