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Local psychologist examines mindset of violent mob that breached Capitol

Posted at 5:43 AM, Jan 08, 2021
and last updated 2021-01-08 05:43:43-05

(WXYZ) — A local psychologist is exploring the goals, mindset and motivation of the violent mob in wake of Wednesday's evenings in Washington.

A professor at Michigan State University said regardless of a protest's goals or the ideology of the people there, there are certain commonalities participants share.

Assistant Professor of Psychology Dr. Mark Brandt said those in attendance exhibited traits of any large protest movement. In addition to having a strong group identity, he said people who traveled by bus and spent money on hotels were likely confident they would change something.

“They tend to have the believe that the protest will be effective in some way," he said.

In that case, the outcome of an already certified election.

“People who engage with protest typically have really strong emotions. Particularly negative emotions like moral outrage and anger," Brandt added.

He said this is the case, regardless of a group's message.

President Donald Trump, whose latest video on Twitter condemns Wednesday's violence, urges calm and promises a smooth transition of power, exhibited a different tone with his supporters two days ago.

“You’ll never take back our country with weakness, you have to show strength," he said speaking at the rally on Wednesday.

“Hearing, 'hey, go and attack, fight for what we believe in.' People take those words literally. They look to their leaders for this kind of guidance and they take that guidance," Brandt said.

We've also seen lawmakers on both sides of the aisle say Trump's rhetoric is directly to blame for Wednesday's events, despite later tweet statements from the White House.

Police have now made 80 arrests and several of them are from Michigan. Federal investigators are looking to identify those who chose to vandalize, loot and storm the U.S. Capitol.