Журнал психологии и психотерапии

Журнал психологии и психотерапии
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ISSN: 2161-0487


'Beatlemania' and Mass Hysteria - Still a Much Neglected Research Phenomenon

Antony JW Taylor

The 1964 study of crowd behavior and audience arousal was re-visited in 2014, following an inquiry from a journalist in London about the interviews the author had conducted 50 years earlier with John Lennon during the Beatles’ visit to New Zealand. The earlier project is touched upon by request, in the hope, still, of inspiring psychologists to follow suit by studying audience reactions to the music of similar vibrant musical groups.

Apart from tape-recoded interviews with Lennon, the original study involved direct observation of crowd behavior and psychometric testing of target groups. It led to the elimination of clinical hysteria and delinquent proclivities as key elements causing the extraordinary social rumpus that ensued. Instead, adolescents at the immature stage of personality development were found primarily to be those who behaved fanatically and broke conventions.

The study attracted widespread attention at the time, with the editors of two leading journals declaring solemnly that more studies of the kind should be conducted. However, no other researcher seems to have heeded their call. Hence regrettably the one mentioned here remains the first and only data-based study of mass-audience arousal on record.