The role of psychological variables in mass hysteria
Degree GrantorUniversity of Canterbury
Degree NameMaster of Science
Despite the efforts of researchers, mass hysteria is difficult to predict and challenges management. Outbreaks often causes large financial losses, usually represented by the waste of study or work hours, the involvement of emergency personnel, hospitalisation of those involved, and disruption of routine. Very few psychological studies have been produced to date, and some of the issues raised were the methodological difficulties in defining and limiting the phenomena as an object of scientific inquiry. An analysis of psychological variables utilising case study methodology and the historical method indicates that these variables are present in episodes of mass hysteria, and that they are likely to play a key role in triggering the outbreak, in spreading symptoms, maintaining the mass hysteric's behaviour, and ending the episodes. This is an exploratory study, and further research remains to be done on all aspects of the role of psychological variables in these outbreaks. Computer simulation of mass hysteria may help understand these phenomena, which often catch people by surprise, greatly limiting data recording and analysis of its natural occurrence.