Parsimony versus reductionism: How can crowd psychology be introduced into computer simulation?

Michael J. Seitz, Anne Templeton, John Drury, Gerta Köster, Andrew Philippides

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Computer simulations are increasingly being used to predict the behaviour of crowds. However, the models used are mainly based on video observations, not an understanding of human decision making. Theories of crowd psychology can elucidate the factors underpinning collective behaviour in human crowds. Yet, in contrast to psychology, computer science must rely upon mathematical formulations in order to implement algorithms and keep models manageable. Here we address the problems and possible solutions encountered when incorporating social psychological theories of collective behaviour in computer modelling. We identify that one primary issue is retaining parsimony in a model whilst avoiding reductionism by excluding necessary aspects of crowd psychology, such as the behaviour of groups. We propose cognitive heuristics as a potential avenue to create a parsimonious model that incorporates core concepts of collective behaviour derived from empirical research in crowd psychology.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)95-102
JournalReview of General Psychology
Volume21
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2017

Keywords

  • crowd psychology
  • pedestrian dynamics
  • interdisciplinary
  • social identity approach
  • collective behavior

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