Ferguson Shooting Analysis Paper

Amazing Essays
Power, Violence, and Discrimination an Analysis of the Shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri

Austin Dix
PSYC 2602-002
Spring 2015
University of Colorado Boulder

The shooting of an unarmed black teenager named Michael Brown by a white police officer, Darren Wilson, in Ferguson, Missouri polarized the nation and catalyzed a renewed focus on police violence and racial biases in policing. Ferguson, Missouri has 21,000 residents, and is primarily white. Of their 53-man police force, only four are black, and according to the U.S. Justice Department, the Ferguson Police has a highly disparate number of black suspects arrested. Thus, questions were quickly raised after the shooting whether biases or prejudices
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The seemingly uncontrolled riots across Ferguson, like many other historical riots such as in New York and L.A., can actually be evaluated and explained in terms of a few different group psychological concepts. Groups, forming into mobs, often operate within two sociological principles: group polarization and deindividualization. Group polarization describes the tendency for group decisions to be more irrational and extreme than individual decisions. Groups tend to cause individuals to become more convinced in whatever preexisting belief they had. Deindividualization (486) describes the lack of self identity combined with reduced rationality often common in mob situations. The colloquial saying, ‘a group has a mind of its own’ describes this well — a deindividualized person is more likely to be impulsive, irrational, emotional, and destructive. This clearly happened with thousands of protesters in Ferguson. Protests often started out peaceful and organized, but as a few protestors slowly started to become violent, others followed in their footsteps. Tory Higgins of Columbia University says that social psychology clearly backs up what happened in Ferguson — when people in a crowd see others acting a particular way, they are more likely to act that way as well. Looting, as an example, is more likely be done in groups ans also makes people …show more content…
(2015, September 5). How psychology can help Ferguson heal. St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Retrieved fromhttp://www.stltoday.com/news/opinion/columns/how-psychology-can-help-ferguson-heal/article_f6d6e76e-92c7-59a8-b7da-6321c3be882f.html

Larry, B., Ford, F., Rebecca, L., Haeyoun, P., & Alicia, P. (2014, November 24). What Happened in Ferguson? New York Times. Retrieved from: http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2014/08/13/us/ferguson-missouri-town-under-siege-after-police-shooting.html?action=click&contentCollection=U.S.®ion=Footer&moduleDetail=undefined&pgtype=Multimedia&_r=0
OReilly, C. (2011, October 11). The Psychology Of A Rioter. Huffington Post. Retrieved from http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/08/11/the-psychology-of-a-riot_n_924839.html

Letzer, L. (2014, November 26). What Social Psychology Says About Darren Wilson and Michael Brown. Popular Science. Retrieved fromhttp://www.popsci.com/what-social-psychology-reveals-about-darren-wilsons-testimony

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