In this article we will discuss about the concept of group mind.
LeBon, the French sociologist used the term “Group Mind”, to explain the various characteristics of crowd behaviour. He viewed that when individuals come together in a crowd, a group mind or collective mind emerges. Guided by the group mind, they show a different type of behaviour than when they are alone. Thus it is due to LeBon that the concept of crowd mind or group mind came in to existence.
The observation of significant difference between the behaviour of the same individual in a lone situation and in a group or crowd situation led him to develop this concept. He held that as a member of a crowd the person behaves in such an irresponsible manner that after words he repents for the same.
He explains this by saying that when one sees other people of the group behaving in particular way, his sense of responsibility decreases and due to social facilitation, sense of encouragement and competition he vomits all the suppressed and repressed desires, tendencies and wishes.
During this period the concept of group mind or crowd mind was accepted and psychologists and sociologists thought that social psychology can explain every human behaviour with the concept of group and collective phenomena.
But Allport has criticised this concept of group mind completely, and it has no existence today. Allport does not deny that an individual behaves in a different way when he is a member of different groups. But to explain this, he says one need not use or coin the concept of group mind.
This can be explained by the individual mind. In the beginning of 20th century Durkheim also talked a good deal of the relations between individuals group and society. McDougall took this concept of group mind to explain the behaviour of individuals in highly organized, stable and well integrated groups like the church and army.
The concept of group mind has also been used to explain the peculiarities in behaviour of social and caste group.
Psychologists in favour of crowd or group mind argue that the person in crowd or an active group looses his personal consciousness and sense of responsibility and is guided by unconscious desires, repressed urges and crowd consciousness.
Consciousness depends upon the functioning of neural structure and nervous systems possessed by individual members. But the crowd of the group does not have nervous system of its own, they argued. This is an important fallacy of crowd mind or group mind.
The concept of group mind has no existence today. It has been completely abandoned because of the fact that the same individual shows different behaviour at different situations. Allport conducted several experimental studies in group and individual situations and found that there is interaction between various members of a group.
A influences B and is also influenced by B. He found that the majority of subjects showed improvement in speed and quantity of work in a group situation than when alone because of sense of cooperation, competition and social facilitation.
F.H. Allport was the staunch opposer of the concept of group mind or collective mind and today it is totally abandoned by social psychologists. But since the group functions as an unit, what a psychologist can do with an individual mind, some psychologists question.
So in place of group mind modern day social psychologists like Lewin and others have used the concept of group dynamics where groups are in dynamic relation with each other.
Group dynamics studies how the behaviour changes upon external conditions. In place of group mind or collective mind, laws of group behaviour need he formulated where the basic unit of analysis is the group and not the individual. Such laws of group behaviour should complement the laws of individual behaviour. But the group behaviour need not be stated in individual terms.
Kretch and Crutchfield (1947) held that a scientific and mature approach to group dynamics must seek out new concepts, new properties, new variables with which to characterize the group as a whole.