From mindless masses to small groups: Conceptualizing collective behavior in crowd modeling

Anne Templeton, John Drury, Andrew Philippides

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

Computer simulations are increasingly used to monitor and predict behavior at large crowd events, such as mass gatherings, festivals and evacuations. We critically examine the crowd modeling literature and call for future simulations of crowd behavior to be based more closely on findings from current social psychological research. A systematic review was conducted on the crowd modeling literature (N = 140 articles) to identify the assumptions about crowd behavior that modelers use in their simulations. Articles were coded according to the way in which crowd structure was modeled. It was found that 2 broad types are used: mass approaches and small group approaches. However, neither the mass nor the small group approaches can accurately simulate the large collective behavior that has been found in extensive empirical research on crowd events. We argue that to model crowd behavior realistically, simulations must use methods which allow crowd members to identify with each other, as suggested by self-categorization theory.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)215-229
JournalReview of General Psychology
Issue number3
Early online date17 Aug 2015
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2015

Keywords / Materials (for Non-textual outputs)

  • crowds
  • computer simulations
  • modeling
  • social identity
  • intragroup processes


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