Is Aggression Contagious?

Here’s another Good Question that was on the other night. Is aggression contagious?

“The brawl at the Mall of America several Monday nights ago started out as one fight and spread into many more. It’s not uncommon to see fights get out of control. When given the option to “fight or flight,” are we more likely to choose fight when we’re around others?”

Do you agree with this? When you look at the crowds that get out of control it’s scary. Sporting events get out of control all the time as do “celebrations” that turn violent. I also had a food fight break out with 200 6th graders at lunch and let me tell you, it got out of control really fast. We also “closed the old Met” in 1981. That was “riot” like. I did NOTHING but the “crowd” I was with took our bench that we sat on all those years and forEVER it hung in the Erickson family garage. I think Kevin has it now but that didn’t turn violent.

Why do you think some turn violent and why do things get so out of control with some and not others? Do you think it’s contagious or do you think people should be able to control themselves? I can honestly say if I was anywhere and a fight broke out, I’d be the first one out the door calling 911.

Have you ever been involved in a “riot” like situation? Which side were you on? The aggressive or meek?

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5 Responses to Is Aggression Contagious?

  1. Vicki says:

    If i was ever in the situation where a riot broke loose and i was in the middle of it, id try and get out..
    Ive been in a lot of “mock” riots (crowd control) for training but then im on the other side..trying to stop what is going on.

  2. SKL says:

    I can’t remember ever being in that kind of situation. But like you guys, if I ever were, I’m pretty sure I’d be looking for the fastest way out of there.

    I honestly don’t know how these things spread, because I’m the kind of person who gets more calm or quiet or “waits to see what happens” when things get dicey. But, I have seen some folks who seem to be just waiting for an excuse to lash out. Maybe it’s a fear thing with them. I know I’m more likely to lash out verbally if I feel cornered and verbally attacked. Maybe it’s the same with some folks when things get physical.

  3. Nikki says:

    I’ve been in the middle of a riot when I was in the 7th grade. Our high school basketball team was playing at home against one of our rivals, and a HUGE fight broke out. That same night, my brother got shot at. Scary!!! That was the worst one I’ve been in. Not a part of, but I was trapped in the middle of it all. I’ll never forget the feeling I had when I heard about the shooting and my brother was there, and I didn’t know where he was. He’ll tell you he should be dead, but thankfully the punk teenager had horrible aim!

    When I was younger, I’d be on the fight side if it was small. But I wasn’t dumb enough to get involved in something like a riot! Now, there is NO fight in me. I’m too old for that!

  4. Laura says:

    I’ve never been in a fight/riot situation, and I hope that I never am. However… whenever I’m in a crowd situation, I’m always “running scenarios” in my head: where are the exits? Which exit is everyone most likely to head for? Is there another one that might be less crowded if I need to get out? Are there windows? Phones? Fire Extinguishers? that kind of thing. Not sure where it came from, probably my overactive imagination creating things, but it keeps me aware.

    As for how they get started… I think it depends on a lot of factors. Certainly the emotion of the group before the riot/fight breaks out, which is why you see more at things like sporting events. There’s also the contribution of alcohol, suppressing the ‘better judgement’ of those involved. There are also situations like the recent OWS protests, where many of those people showed up looking for a fight – thinking, I’m sure, that a fight = press and press = fame. People will do a lot of things for attention, so there are also “pot stirrers”. You see them all the time on blogs – we’ve had our run-ins with them here.

    I think it comes down to the times we live in. People are far less inhibited now. Things like the OWS protest are glamorized, rather than shown truthfully for what they are (the good and the bad of them). People are used to being able to “speak” with complete anonymity, thanks to online nicknames, and that tends to run into their real lives, and they’re more likely to run their mouths. I have even noticed, in my own life, days when I’m embroiled in a hot debate at another site, I might be a little more confrontational in my real life. I try to keep it under control, recognizing that I don’t have to be “on guard” with those that I love, but sometimes it’s hard to remember that.

    Finally (geez, I’m verbose today!), I think our society has become SO polarized in recent years. More and more, you’re either “with us or against us”. I blame politics – either you agree with me, or you’re a Right/Left Wing Extremest, bigot, intolerant, bleeding heart, pantywaist. There is no middle ground anymore. A person cannot be anti-abortion and pro-gay marriage, for example. It’s just not allowed. People don’t know how, anymore, to control their emotions. We talk so much about “tolerance” but our society seems to be more and more “intolerant” by the day.

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