Bauhaus-Universität Weimar

Hugo Münsterberg. His Life and Work
Münsterberg, Margaret
one knows himself as a part of the cooperating whole must be 
fully aware of the advantages and of the dangers which are 
created by this reënforcement of suggestibility. 
But with normal men there is no more effective cause for 
increase of suggestibility than the forming of a mass in which 
everv one sees and knows that all the others share his fate, have 
the same to perform and to enjoy and to suffer. The children 
in a class, the laborers in a factory, the voters in a massmeeting, 
the spectators on the bleachers at a game, the crowd assembled 
at a fire or an accident, form various types of such organized 
units held together by increased suggestibility, through which 
every single member is liable to act in a way which would be un¬ 
natural to him if he were alone. He may do acts or say things or 
risk dangers which he would fear if he stood by himself. He 
has not really become more courageous, but his increased sug¬ 
gestibility makes him imitative and ready to do what the others 
seem willing to do and to ignore the warning voice of his 
reason or his cowardice. He also becomes a little more foolish 
than he would be in isolation, he may shout wrords or indulge 
in actions which would appear to him silly or inconsiderate if 
he were alone; but the crowd consciousness has control of him; 
he has become insensitive to the opposing voice of wisdom. He 
laughs where he would never laugh alone; he runs away where 
his normal instincts would teach him to hold on ; he gets 
discouraged or excited where the cold facts would not warrant 
either. The mass can hold his mind down to a level far 
below its true nature and can lift it up to a height which it 
could never reach unsupported. 
Among all lasting conditions of human life, none seems 
more predisposed to create this increased suggestibility of a 
mass than the life on a warship. Every man on board feels 
how his fate is bound up with that of all the others. He 
knows that they all are detached for months and years from 
the life of the millions; they feel the same pulse of the engines; 
they are lifted by the same waves; they know that the same 
danger would threaten all of them. The individual has given 
up a part of his possibilities. If the hour of a battle were to 
come, every man knows that for him no individual rushing 
forward is possible, as for the soldiers on the battlefield. He 
cannot escape the ship which carries them all and with which 
they all will sink if it goes to the bottom. A closer union of 
a multitude of strangers cannot be imagined; the suggestibility 


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