Source Book For Social Psychology


Kimball Young

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The audience is a type of group formation which is much more formal than the spontaneous crowd. Moreover, it is marked, for the most part, by more orderly, systematic procedures. There is often a considerable degree of rationality in the ideas and attitudes called forth. Moreover, the leader or speaker often dominates the situation much more completely than in the crowd. The polarization is much more complete, the audience being rather docile and mild in the presence of the speaker.

Woolbert's paper presents a full and incisive analysis of the psychology of the audience. He shows the nature of the polarization and the mental sets or attitudes which are essential to the audience. He indicates various degrees of integration and disintegration of the audience, and the speaker's relation to his audience.

Griffith's paper reports an experiment in the seating in a class-room audience. Such studies might well be extended to other audiences with profit. The configuration of the audience must be taken into account in dealing with its behavior. It would be interesting to note the changes from an audience to a crowd or mob following these lines of attention and interest.

The paper by Travis indicates the effects of a small audience on a simple mental-motor performance. The presence of other persons. on the whole, tends to enhance the score in this type of test. This sort of study could be carried further into more natural situations to reveal the effects of social stimulation on behavior.

The two selections from Scott show first how to render an audience suggestible and how to change the audience into a crowd. To move the audience to action, to change its opinions, nothing is more essential than to break up its intellectual trends and to reduce its attitudes and ideas to emotional-instinctive bases. Political and

( 669) religious leaders have been supreme in this art. The great mass movements of the world have not been accomplished by audiences, but by crowds who take on mob characteristics. The deliberative bodies of the political state, however, are protected against the crowd characteristics by their rules of procedure and by the insistence of third person control, that is, the speaker addresses his fellow members through the chairman. In short, parliamentary procedures attempt to prevent crowdish attitudes and actions from arising. There is thus an effort to keep discussion and deliberation at a more intellectual, a more objective and a more sane level. When parliamentary bodies degenerate into crowds their functioning changes profoundly.

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