Herd Mentality ,Stockholm syndrome & Social Thinking

Herd mentality, or mob mentality, describes how people are influenced by their peers to adopt certain behaviors. Examples of the herd mentality include stock market trends, superstition and home décor. Social psychologists study the related topics of group intelligence, crowd wisdom, and decentralized decision making.


Stockholm syndrome

Stockholm syndrome is a condition that causes hostages to develop a psychological alliance with their captors as a survival strategy during captivity.[1] These feelings, resulting from a bond formed between captor and captives during intimate time spent together, are generally considered irrational in light of the danger or risk endured by the victims. Generally speaking, Stockholm syndrome consists of “strong emotional ties that develop between two persons where one person intermittently harasses, beats, threatens, abuses, or intimidates the other.”[2] The FBI’s Hostage Barricade Database System shows that roughly eight percent of victims show evidence of Stockholm syndrome.[3]

Formally named in 1973 when four hostages were taken during a bank robbery in Stockholm, Sweden, Stockholm syndrome is also commonly known as ‘capture bonding’.[3] The syndrome’s title was developed when the victims of the Stockholm bank robbery defended their captors after being released and would not agree to testify in court against them.[4] Stockholm syndrome’s significance arises because it is based in a paradox, as captives’ sentiments for their captors are the opposite of the fear and disdain an onlooker may expect to see as a result of trauma.

There are four key components that generally lead to the development of Stockholm syndrome: a hostage’s development of positive feelings towards their captor, no previous hostage-captor relationship, a refusal by hostages to cooperate with police forces and other government authorities, and a hostage’s belief in the humanity of their captor, for the reason that when a victim holds the same values as the aggressor, they cease to be perceived as a threat.[2][3]

Stockholm syndrome is considered a “contested illness,” due to many law enforcement officers’ doubt about the legitimacy of the condition.


Social Thinking

Social thinking isnothing but what individuals do when interacting with other people: namely, they think about them. Most people take social thinking for granted, as it is generally an intuitive process that considers the points of view, emotions, and intentions of others. In neurotypical people, social thinking is hard-wired neurologically at birth and learned intuitively from infancy. Children with autism spectrum disorders generally do not intuitively learn social information the way neurotypical children do. Those with ASD and related social learning challenges who are “higher functioning” need to be cognitively taught how to think socially and understand the use of related social skills.

While these challenges are commonly experienced by individuals with autism spectrum disorders (high-functioning), social communication disorder, Asperger’s, ADHD, nonverbal learning disability (NLD) and similar diagnoses, children and adults experiencing social learning difficulties often have received no diagnosis.

The term Social Thinking was coined by Michelle Garcia Winner in the late 1990s while working with higher-functioning students, who were expected to blend in with their peer group by producing more nuanced social responses. This theory views social skills as dynamic and situational, not as something that can be taught and then replicated across the school campus. Instead, social skills appear to evolve from one’s thinking about how one wants to be perceived. So, the decision to use discrete social skills (e.g. smiling versus “looking cool”, standing casually versus formally, swearing/speaking informally versus speaking politely) are not based on memorizing specific social rules (as often taught in our social skills groups), but instead are based on a social decision-making tree of thought that involves dynamic and synergistic processing. Winner, (2000[1] & 2007[2]) has suggested we could better understand multidimensional social learning needs by exploring the many different aspects of social information and related responses that are expected from any one of us to utilize well, in order for us to be considered as having “good social skills”.