Is there a word for this behavior?

Doing or getting away with something just because you're in a big crowd setting where you don't perceive your actions to be noticeable to most people and therefore there would be no consequences? Google keeps trying to push "herd mentality" on me, but I'm not talking about someone following a pack, I'm talking about someone using the pack as a cover to do something recklessly as they feel no one would notice or care.

Scenario 1: Full big box gym class with 50+ attendees in close proximity of each other, Becky decides to have a full blown conversation with her friend while performing a half-assed workout, she thinks nobody minds, 50 sweaty bodies in one room and blasting music, what's some extra noise on top of that? But Becky also attends a boutique spinning class the next day with only 10 spots per class, also with her friend, but this time she won't say a word the whole hour as she's got more spotlight on her (less bodies around her) and is afraid of being judged for talking over the instructor.

Scenario 2: Becky finishes her favorite granola bar while crossing a very busy street, she throws it on the sidewalk almost certain nobody saw her or if they did they don't care/won't confront her about it. But Becky also has a long meeting later that day, with her boss and 10 of her coworkers, for what she prepared in advance packing another granola bar. This time when she is done, she puts the wrapper in her pocket and a few hours pass by before she gets a chance to drop it in a bin, she doesn't want the judgement of her peers if she would pull the same move she did on the street earlier that day.

Is there a word/definition for this type of behavior/mentality? Also an explanation? (Other than being deeply inconsiderate?)


  • 1
    Single word requests should include a sample sentence demonstrating how the word would be used. Feb 15, 2020 at 9:31
  • It falls under "anonymity" in (crowd) pscyhology.
    – ermanen
    Feb 16, 2020 at 21:17
  • 'Hiding in the crowd' is a fairly common expression. Being afraid of sticking out, of being reprimanded or worse. // An explanation for behaviours is off-topic on ELU. Try Psychology.SE. Nov 13, 2020 at 14:08
  • “protective coloration” is sometimes used but, I think, not for exactly the scenario you describe. Nov 14, 2020 at 17:04

2 Answers 2


For both scenarios you describe, I would quote former US representative from Oklahoma J. C. Watts, to say it's a clear case of having no character.

  • Character is doing the right thing when nobody's looking. There are too many people who think that the only thing that's right is to get by, and the only thing that's wrong is to get caught. Watts


  • Everyone tries to define this thing called Character. It's not hard. Character is doing what's right when nobody's looking. Watts

J. C. Watts

As for the behavioral trait per se, I suggest concealed unmannerliness


If you rephrase the question and ask "why do we behave better when we're being observed?" then the expression would be 'social pressure', 'peer pressure' or 'group pressure' depending on the situation.

Psychology Dictionary definition for Group pressure:

any direct or indirect social pressure that is exerted by a group on its individual members to influence their choices


  • "Block quote" [comment] Feb 15, 2020 at 20:51
  • 1
    I don't know what you mean. I think you're telling me that I've used block quotes incorrectly.
    – Kevin Ryan
    Feb 16, 2020 at 17:16

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.