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Riots started in Tottenham in London on August 6th this year and spread to 35 different locations across the Capital and towns and cities across England, including Birmingham, Bristol, Leeds, Liverpool and Nottingham. Parliament was recalled and there was a rapidly growing consensus among politicians and the media, that the riots were the result of pure criminality. The riots were criminal, the rioters were criminals and their behaviour was motivated by criminality.
A popular explanation for the cause came down to "mob mentality", that in the heat of the moment, individuals lose their identity and act emotionally and irrationally, with little sense of self.
But three months after the riots, two psychologists of international reputation, Steve Reicher and Clifford Stott, both experts in crowd behaviour and crowd psychology, are challenging that interpretation in a new e-book, "Mad Mobs and Englishmen". They say that not only is the criminality consensus wrong, but it's also dangerous.
Claudia speaks to Professor Reicher, about what their research uncovered.
"Anchoring" and the Minimum Payments on Credit Cards:
The British have the second highest use of credit cards in the world; only Americans make greater use of their flexible friends. And in the UK, our cards are loaded with debt. The minimum payment printed, by law, on the bottom of the monthly bill, is supposed to stop us getting into further debt by ensuring that we always pay off at least some of the balance every month. But new research by Professor Neil Stewart from the University of Warwick has discovered that the minimum payment could be having the opposite effect. Because of the impact of a well-established psychological effect called "anchoring", it appears that simply reading the suggested minimum payment makes us pay off less of the debt that we would otherwise have done. Counterintuitive ? Yes.
Bullying and Borderline Personality Disorder:
The links between childhood bullying and mental health problems in later life are well established, and new research suggests that the impact could also include increased rates of Borderline Personality Disorder. BPD is quite rare and little is known about its causes, but it's a condition which can feature emotional instability, impulsivity, paranoia and difficulties in relationships.
In a huge study over time, 6000 children in all, the Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children (ALSPAC), researchers discovered that children who experienced long term or very severe bullying by their peers are seven times more likely to show symptoms of BPD at the age of 11.
Producer: Fiona Hill.
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