|Cute trick-or-treaters or mahem-makers?|
As the children take to the streets tonight in search of a trick-or-treat, you might be wondering the best way to protect your house from some heavy candy-looting. In 1976, Ed Diener and his colleagues asked a similar question, though they were more interested in the conditions that prompted trick-or-treaters to overindulge and take more than they should. Halloween is a holiday which encourages people to dress up in costumes and roam the streets in large groups - the perfect recipe for deindividuation. Deindividuation occurs when people’s own sense of individuality is diminished and can result in antisocial behaviors. Diener used Halloween as an opportunity to research how anonymity, group size, and feelings of responsibility influence people’s willingness to steal extra candy and money.
The scene: Imagine that you come up to a house with a table, on one side is a bowl full of individually wrapped bite-sized candy bars, about 2 feet away on the other side is a bowl full of pennies and nickels. Nearby is a decorative backdrop with a peep hole that camouflages an unobtrusive observer. When you arrive at the door, a woman you have never met greets you.