Groups And Violence In The Night-Time Economy: Watching Drinkers Police Themselves
Mark Levine is a social psychologist with an interest in social responsibility, public order and public space. His recent research projects include research on bystander intervention in violence (funded by the ESRC) and CCTV surveillance, public drinking legislation and interactions in public places (funded by the Home Office). He is a member of the Conflict and Solidarity Research Unit in the Psychology Department at Lancaster University. Why do humans fight? When they do, what stops the violence from spiralling out of control? This presentation will explore the informal regulation of violence in the night-time economy. It will describe a systematic behavioural analysis of 42 episodes of public aggression (none of which involve police or bouncers, some of which end in violence) captured on a single city-centre CCTV surveillance system. Drawing on recent developments in the social psychology of group processes, it will show that, contrary to popular belief, group members are more likely to conciliate than escalate violence, and that this tendency increases as group size increases. It will also outline the pattern of third party behaviours that is most likely to prevent aggression from becoming violence. Finally, it will show that third party intervention in violence is more successful when carried out by multiple third parties than by a single intervener. It will conclude that, when it comes to developing practical solutions for tackling night-time economy violence, groups should be seen as part of the solution and not simply part of the problem.