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The Crowd: A Study of the Popular Mind (Kobo eBook)

The Crowd: A Study of the Popular Mind By Gustave Le Bon Cover Image
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First published in 1895, “The Crowd: A Study of the Popular Mind” is a pivotal work in the field of group psychology written by French social psychologist Gustave Le Bon. Le Bon theorizes that there are several characteristics of crowds as distinguishable from individual behavior. As it states in the preface: “The following work is devoted to an account of the characteristics of crowds. The whole of the common characteristics with which heredity endows the individuals of a race constitute the genius of the race. When, however, a certain number of these individuals are gathered together in a crowd for purposes of action, observation proves that, from the mere fact of their being assembled, there result certain new psychological characteristics.” Le Bon summarizes these key differences as impulsiveness, lack of reason, irritability, and the exaggeration of emotion and sentiment. In essence, Le Bon argues that a person in a crowd becomes hypnotized and taken over by the influence or magnetism of the crowd. As populations have grown and the ability for people to gather and share ideas has become greater, Le Bon’s observations regarding the dangers of crowds remain as relevant and important today as when they were written over a century ago.