Psychology of Riots

Riots in the Middle East – Egypt, Libya, and Bahrain – have been the content of international news these past few months. I search for answers to why riots happen and I found the most interesting answer in Gustave LeBon theory.

The first requirement of a riot is a mob. According to LeBon, the mob is a disorderly crowd controlled by the subconscious. Intelligence retreats to a corner of the mind, and such factors as suggestibility, impulsiveness, and emotionality take over.

Here are some of the reason why riots take place:

Mob Formation. Mob’s disorder may cross the line to violence and riot. Like the common brawl in soccer or any sporting event, music festivals and so forth.

Inability to affect those in authority. The mob resort to violence when those who represent the government or the authority failed to communicate with their grievances.

Lack of contentment with conditions. For instance, students riot because the college demands a higher tuition fee or the college didn’t meet the needs of the students.

Repressive authority. If the police force uses direct force to disperse a mob, a riot may ensue.