top of page
  • Writer's pictureSam Wilks

Understanding the Tactics of Mob Psychology in Political Protests

In the domain of political protests, the dynamics of crowd behaviour and mob psychology play pivotal roles. These elements are not just side notes to the events; they are often central to understanding how protests unfold, escalate, or dissolve. The realm of mob psychology in political protests is a complex tapestry woven from the threads of individual intentions, social influences, and broader ideological battles. This exploration delves into the mechanics of mob psychology, underpinned by a thorough understanding of human behaviour, societal norms, and the often invisible lines of economic and political philosophy.

Mob psychology refers to the way individuals’ behaviours and decisions are influenced when they are part of a crowd. This phenomenon leads to a diminishment of personal responsibility, a shift in attention from long-term consequences to immediate action, and a magnification of emotions, be it anger, excitement, or fear. These effects catalyse a crowd to act in ways that its individual members might not when isolated.

Historically, as seen in the protest movements across the globe and indeed in Australia, mob psychology has been a double-edged sword—serving both as a catalyst for positive social change and a vehicle for chaos and destruction.

Some of the Tactics Employed in Political Protests include Amplification of Emotions: Political protests often harness the natural tendency of crowds to amplify emotions. Leaders of such movements, whether they are formally recognised or emerge spontaneously, use rhetoric that resonates on an emotional level, often framing situations in terms of stark moral dichotomies. This can be effective in mobilising a group but is dangerous in its propensity to sideline rational debate and compromise.

Anonymity and the Diffusion of Responsibility: The cover of a crowd provides anonymity, which significantly reduces inhibitions against actions that might be considered unacceptable outside the mob context. This diffusion of personal responsibility leads to actions such as vandalism, violence, and other forms of aggressive behaviour that escalate the protest into a riot.

Peer Pressure and Contagion: Crowds exert strong peer pressure that leads to a contagion effect, where behaviours and emotions spread rapidly among individuals. This is often observed in how quickly peaceful protests can turn violent or how slogans and chants unify a group into a cohesive entity.

Some real-world examples include the 2020 Black Lives Matter Protests: Globally, and in parts of Australia, these protests demonstrated both the power and peril of mob psychology. Despite being largely peaceful, some protests featured violent clashes and rioting. The protests were often fueled by a shared outrage, amplified by viral videos and social media—a modern accelerant to the traditional dynamics of crowd behaviour.

The Anti-Lockdown Protests in Melbourne: Throughout 2020 and 2021, Melbourne saw multiple protests against COVID-19 lockdown measures. These gatherings showcased how shared discontent against government policies could unify diverse groups. The protests were a blend of legitimate civil disobedience and chaotic episodes, where the mob mentality sometimes led to clashes with law enforcement, generally and mostly instigated by those employed to enforce the law, but as several successful court cases and judgements have endorse, mainly the actions of lawless armed thiugs with a power complex.

Understanding mob psychology is crucial for both law enforcement, security personnel and organisers to manage crowds effectively and prevent violence. Strategies include: Negotiation and Communication: Open lines of communication between protest leaders and authorities help manage the crowd’s expectations and reduce the likelihood of misunderstandings that might lead to violence.


De-escalation tactics: Law enforcement can employ de-escalation tactics that avoid the use of force and thus do not provide additional stimuli that could inflame the crowd further.

Isolation of Agitators: Identifying and isolating individuals who are instigating violence helps in dampening the aggressive behaviours in a crowd.

The phenomenon of mob psychology in political protests offers essential insights into the broader human condition—our drive for social identity, and significance, the influence of our environment on our behaviour, and our yearning for change, sometimes at any cost. As societies around the world, including Australia, continue to evolve, so too will the nature of collective expressions of dissent. Some have turned to eco-terrorism to course change through fear, destruction, distractions and harassment. In navigating these complex dynamics, the wisdom lies not in suppressing the voice of the protest but in understanding its roots and channels, thereby fostering an environment where change can be achieved without chaos.

From the author.

The opinions and statements are those of Sam Wilks and do not necessarily represent whom Sam Consults or contracts to. Sam Wilks is a skilled and experienced Security Consultant with almost 3 decades of expertise in the fields of Real estate, Security, and the hospitality/gaming industry. His knowledge and practical experience have made him a valuable asset to many organizations looking to enhance their security measures and provide a safe and secure environment for their clients and staff.

2 views0 comments


bottom of page