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One of the Funniest Things I Have Ever Seen!

November 21, 2010 2 comments

I’ve watched it a dozen times. It’s still funny. It’s the crowd reaction at Oprah’s Favourite Things 2010!

They literally had to have medics on hand, just in case.

So how am I going to make this about science? Crowd psychology of course.

Why do these people freak out so spectacularly? If they were watching from home and still told that they would receive all of Oprah’s favourite things, would they still jump up and down crying? Probably not.

There are a few theories about crowd behaviour. The one which describes Oprah’s audience behaviour best is probably contagion theory. It states that

crowds exert a hypnotic influence on their members. The hypnotic influence, combined with the anonymity of belonging to a large group of people, results in irrational, emotionally charged behavior. Or, as the name implies, the frenzy of the crowd is somehow contagious, like a disease, and the contagion feeds upon itself, growing with time. This also implies that the behavior of a crowd is an emergent property of the people coming together and not a property of the people themselves. [Wikipedia]

People do tend to act differently when in groups than by themselves. There are several theories as to why that is, and it’s an interesting field of study.

A similar thing happens when a large group of people gathers to see a Faith Healer. Even though they have been widely discredited as con artists, people still fall over after having the ‘laying of hands’ by the healer. Why? Because they are in a crowd that expects it, and they have seen other people do the same thing.

I’m no psychologist though. I just think its funny.