Why do People Behave Differently in a Group?

Earlier this week, I was returning back home from Bangalore. After all the security checks, I checked in the Premium Plaza Lounge and relaxed a bit after the hectic day at work.

The silence in the lounge, the comfortable chair and a hot cup of tea did wonders for my state of mind. In no time, I visibly relaxed and enjoyed some time by myself  as I read and watched the world go by.


As we know, the good times don’t last forever and it was time for me to leave this peaceful haven and move towards the gate to board my flight.

As I approached the gate, I stopped in my tracks. There was a lot of commotion at the far end of the waiting area. On observing further, it was actually loud boisterous voices of a large group of people. It appeared all were talking simultaneously. Ignoring them, I boarded the airline shuttle bus and peace was all around once again, with everybody in the bus busy looking either the activity on the ramp and taxiway or their smartphones.

As I settled in my seat, the raucous laughter and loud chatter filled the aircraft. One look in the direction of the noise and my heart sank, it was the same group from the waiting area. The group consisted of some 30-35 middle-aged men and women. In high spirits and booming voices they kept the luggage in overhead bins and occupied their seats. No, some never sat on their seats and took the role of airline staff and made sure that their group mates were comfortable. So, they kept moving back and forth from the front end to the back of the aircraft, since their seats were scattered.

The airhostesses tried their best to bring some order to the proceedings but in vain. The group carried on with their party, with chanting of ‘Jai Shree Ram” when the plane took off and generally talking non-stop and loudly. Neither did they listen to the announcements nor did they let anybody else do the same. They were totally oblivious to the amusement or disgust of other passengers.

Soon, it was time for food service and pandemonium broke loose. The volunteers from the group opened the overhead bins and took out boxes and bags of food. Different aromas soon wafted through the air. The volunteers served kachoris, samosas, mathris, home made paranthas, namkeen, sweets, juices, cold drinks and even pickles to their friends. The airline girls requested them to carry on with their food party after the airline service, but did they listen?


The airline staff was visibly annoyed with the way they had taken over the aircraft. But the group just turned a deaf ear to their pleas. And the party continued with renewed zeal after the hearty meal they had, and were more raucous than ever. There was not a single moment of peace and quiet in the aircraft during this two hour flight.

And all this made me wonder why people behave differently in a group? Would these people behave in a similar manner when they were travelling alone? I know for sure that it would be a big No.

Then what transformed them? And what made them behave this abominably when they were in a group? Is it the comfort of large numbers? Is it the feeling that they are less likely to be caught doing anything wrong because the anonymity a group provides. Or is it that being in a group made them feel that they were not personally responsible for the collective actions of the group? Whatever happened to their moral code of conduct and how could they change their priorities? Is it the herd mentality where people look to others to see how to behave?

Whatever it is, it is pretty disturbing. What do you think about it? Have you experienced this herd behaviour anytime?

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34 thoughts on “Why do People Behave Differently in a Group?

  1. Some people can be ignorant and naive…. Some may get into a hyper excited mode on becoming a group with some common purpose…. There are those who misbehave purposely purely because they are a big group…. Talking loudly is something that one can ignore I think… Could be just excitement… But serving food on plane and disregarding the pleas of the airplane crew is pretty irritating

    • I dont know, somehow I always associate airline travel with peace and quiet except for a lone wailing kid sometimes. We are used to seeing this behaviour in trains… but aircraft… it was a first for me.

  2. People are excited and become bold when they are in a group. Thank God there was no alcohol. Otherwise, the noise would have been more louder. But, on the other hand, I would rather welcome this noisy group than someone telling me, for 2 hours in the plane, their sad life story and make me depress.

    • Oh yes, alcohol would have turned it into a mayhem!!
      Aah! Those kinds are there too… but for such people, one can put earplugs or fake sleep! 😛

  3. It is very disturbing and shows a blatant lack of respect. It’s unethical and speaks a lot about their character. I feel it sad how they took over the plane and don’t understand that the plane crew bears a lot..at least people can be sensitive and emphatic to others.
    Once, there was a dude who was drunk and raised a scene when he was refused a drink, told the air hostess how he had sex with a female crew member post a trip. Some people can’t hold their glass. Why drink?

  4. This must be so annoying! If you ever see any of these people alone , you will see them reading a book quietly in a corner or something like that. I suppose in a group we all feel cocooned and the outside world recedes to exist?

  5. oh that must have been a painful travel for you especially when you wanted some peace. Yes, Shilpa, I have experienced the same behaviour once in a train. Also, I find people aged in forties and fifties are trying to act young by throwing such scenes and attract attention in parties too, next day posting pics and saying they are enjoying life, with disregard to other’s mood and peace. Can’t the parties have subtle overtones? very rude behaviour.

    • I can empathize with you. Have seen such unruly behaviour in trains a lot! Once a group carried on with their banter till 1 in the night and no amount of requests and threats from fellow passengers worked with them!!

  6. These expereinces can be very disturbing, it’s common in trains, buses. I have not encountered this at the airport nor in planes. Being in group gives them confidence and courage that they are not alone; and there are so many to stand by them..

  7. I’ve often wondered why people behave so outrageously in public, especially in large, noisy groups. Is is the group effect or would they be like that even when alone? I am okay with people being hearty and even loud but not at the expense of other people’s peace of mind, for sure.

    • True. Having fun with friends while traveling is cool. But when it turns into a mayhem and a pain for other co-passengers, I think it’s time to stop and take stock of their loud actions!

  8. This must have been so annoying. Have fun, be loud but don’t invade someone else’s peace of mind.
    Coming to herd mentality – I think it’s the comfort of the group. That they cannot be challenged. That it’s a free country and I will do as I please behavior.

    • Agree completely! Having fun with friends during a journey makes it all the more beautiful. But hijacking the peace of fellow passengers is just not done! *Sigh*

  9. I have experienced similar incidents many a times. The saddest part is that while having fun themselves, these groups forget or ignore the inconvenience that they cause the others sharing the same flight and who have no other option but to bear the noisy & irritating ordeal. :/

  10. Totally connected to your post, Shilpa. I have had so many of these encounters with people who form groups and then use that as a reason to flout the rules, create commotion and confusion around them. Your post nailed it, totally!

  11. Cody, how do you equate BG not visiting a high school with BG not treating people like a human being? If that’s your example then I just hope you’re not a lawyer.And get your facts straight regarding Larry Davis. Davis committed to NC State and their coach was fired. Davis then started looking at other schools, including SHU.

  12. One of the main reason is….. OVER EXCITEMENT….

    People get over-excited when they are with groups…. After long time one meets so many people and also one do not get so many opportunities to get break from work and travel…. So.. may be… the reason…..

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