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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Mobbing is:

  1. a type of antipredatory animal behaviour
  2. a term relating to human bullying behaviour
  3. a criminal offence in Scots law.


Mobbing as antipredatory animal behaviour

A long-established technical use of the word mobbing is in the study of animal behaviour, especially in ornithology, where it refers to the antipredatory mobbing behaviour harassing something that represents a threat to them.

From the Royal Society for Protection of Birds, RSPB, website [1]:

Mobbing is a noisy, obvious form of behaviour that birds engage in to defend themselves or their offspring from predators. When a predator is discovered, the birds start to emit alarm calls and fly at the predator, diverting its attention and harassing it. Sometimes they make physical contact. Mobbing usually starts with just one or two birds, but may attract a large number of birds, often of many species. For example, a chorus of different alarm calls coming from the same tree is often a good sign of a roosting owl or a cat.
Mobbing behaviour has been recorded in a wide range of species, but it is particularly well developed in gulls and terns, while crows are amongst the most frequent mobbers. In addition to flying at the predator and emitting alarm calls, some birds, such as fieldfares and gulls, add to the effectiveness by defaecating or even vomiting on the predator with amazing accuracy...

From the book "Mobbing, Emotional Abuse in the American Workplace, 2005, page 21"[2]:

"In the sixties, the eminent Austrian ethologist Konrad Lorenz used the English term mobbing to describe the behavior that animals use to scare away a stronger, preying enemy. A number of weaker individuals crowd together and display attacking behavior, such as geese scaring away a fox."

Mobbing as human bullying behaviour

Mobbing in the context of human beings either means bullying of an individual by a group in any context, or specifically any workplace bullying.

Though the English word mob denotes a crowd, often in a destructive or hostile mood, German, Polish, Italian and several other European languages have adopted mobbing as a loanword to describe all forms of bullying including that by single persons. The resultant German verb mobben can also be used for physical attacks, calumny against teachers on the internet and intimidation by superiors, with an emphasis on the victims' continuous fear rather than the perpetrators' will to exclude them. The word may thus be a false friend in translation back into English, where mobbing in its primary sense denotes a disorderly gathering by a crowd and in workplace psychology narrowly refers to "ganging up" by others to harass and intimidate an individual.

Research into the phenomenon was pioneered in the 1980s by German-born Swedish scientist Heinz Leymann, who borrowed the term from animal behaviour due to it describing perfectly how a group can attack an individual based only on the negative covert communications from the group".[3]

Mobbing is also found in school systems and this too was discovered by Dr. Heinz Leymann. Although he preferred the term bullying in the context of school children, some have come to regard mobbing as a form of group bullying. As professor and practising psychologist, Dr. Leymann also noted one of the side-effects of Mobbing is Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and is frequently misdiagnosed. After making this discovery he successfully treated thousands of mobbing victims at his clinic in Sweden.

In the book MOBBING: Emotional Abuse in the American Workplace, the authors say that mobbing is typically found in work environments that have poorly organized production and/or working methods and incapable or inattentive management and that mobbing victims are usually "exceptional individuals who demonstrated intelligence, competence, creativity, integrity, accomplishment and dedication".[4]

UK Anti-bully pioneers Andrea Adams and Tim Field used the expression workplace bullying instead of what Leymann called "mobbing" although workplace bullying nearly always involves mobbing in its other meaning of group bullying.

Mobbing in Scots law

Under the law of Scotland, mobbing, also known as mobbing and rioting, is the formation of a mob engaged in disorderly and criminal behaviour. The crime occurs when a group combines to the alarm of the public "for an illegal purpose, or in order to carry out a legal purpose by illegal means, e.g. violence or intimidation".[5] This common purpose distinguishes it from a breach of the peace.


  1. ^ Mobbing Royal Society for Protection of Birds, UK, website
  2. ^ Davenport, Noa, Distler Schwartz, Ruth, Pursell Elliott, Gail, Mobbing, Emotional Abuse in the American Workplace, 3rd Edition 2005, Civil Society Publishing. Ames, IA, Page 21
  3. ^ [1] Heinz Leyman's personal website kept live since his death
  4. ^ Davenport, Noa, Distler Schwartz, Ruth, Pursell Elliott, Gail, Mobbing, Emotional Abuse in the American Workplace, 3rd Edition 2005, Civil Society Publishing. Ames, IA,
  5. ^ Index of legal terms and offences libelled - The National Archives of Scotland

See also

External links


Up to date as of January 15, 2010

Definition from Wiktionary, a free dictionary

See also mobbing



  • IPA: /ˈmɔbɪŋ/


Mobbing n.

  1. bullying (persistent acts intended to make life unpleasant)

This German entry was created from the translations listed at bullying. It may be less reliable than other entries, and may be missing parts of speech or additional senses. Please also see Mobbing in the German Wiktionary. This notice will be removed when the entry is checked. (more information) October 2009

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