Young people took part in the August riots because they saw it as "something exciting to do" that offered the same buzz as a wild party, a report to the Cabinet Office has concluded.
The opportunity to "get free stuff" and the chance to get back at police were the other two big motivations, according to the report, "The August riots in England", from the National Centre for Social Research.
Researchers identified peer pressure, the sight of other people getting away with breaking the law, boredom and acting as part of a group instead of thinking for themselves as factors in nudging people to take part.
"The riots were seen as an exciting event – a day like no other – described in terms of a wild party or 'like a rave'," the researchers wrote, with many people interviewed describing it as "a moment of madness".
Upbringing and employment were cited as reasons why other young people avoided getting involved.