Beyond contagion: Social identity processes in involuntary social influence

Duration: 05/16 – 04/19

The concept of ‘contagion’ is widely used to explain the spread of behaviours, in particular violent disorder, from person to person. However, this framework fails to fully encompass the complex role of group norms and boundaries in their transmission.

Beyond contagion: Social identity processes in involuntary social influence therefore seeks to uncover the dynamics that factors such as identity can play. There are two strands to the research. First, we will carry out a series of controlled experimental studies to identify underlying mechanisms. Second, focusing on the case of the 2011 riots, we examine the ways that disorder was replicated between groups and cities, as well as the factors that prevented its spread to areas elsewhere.

Drawing on extensive interviews with participants undertaken shortly after the riots and a large data-base of secondary sources, the research will help develop a clearer understanding of the psychological forces that shape crowd behaviour. By engaging policy makers, practitioners and academics, the project will help strengthen future responses to violent outbreaks.

Project Twitter
John Drury (PI) Twitter
Clifford Stott Twitter
Fergus Neville Twitter

John Drury (Principal Investigator, Reader in Social Psychology)
Stephen Reicher (Professor of Social Psychology)
Clifford Stott (Professor of Social Psychology)

University of Sussex (Lead organisation)
London School of Economics and Political Science

Analysis of secondary data to analyse key trends and drivers to develop a new model of involuntary influence.

Journal article and summaries of key findings for end-users.

Multi-stakeholder workshops with researchers, practitioners and policy makers in local and national government.

Explaining involuntary influence: Beyond contagion