Predicting collective behaviour at the Hajj: Place, space and the process of cooperation

Hani Alnabulsi, John Drury, Anne Templeton

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

Around 2 million pilgrims attend the annual Hajj to Mecca and the holy places, which are subject to dense crowding. Both architecture and psychology can be part of disaster risk reduction in relation to crowding, since both can affect the nature of collective behaviour—particularly cooperation—among pilgrims. To date, collective behaviour at the Hajj has not been systematically investigated from a psychological perspective. We examined determinants of cooperation in the Grand Mosque and plaza during the pilgrimage. A questionnaire survey of 1194 pilgrims found that the Mosque was perceived by pilgrims as one of the most crowded ritual locations. Being in the plaza (compared with the Mosque) predicted the extent of cooperation, though crowd density did not. Shared social identity with the crowd explained more of the variance than both location and density. We examined some of the process underlying cooperation. The link between shared social identity and giving support to others was stronger in the plaza than in the Mosque, and suggests the role of place and space in modulating processes of cooperation in crowds. These findings have implications for disaster risk reduction and for applications such as computer simulations of crowds in pilgrimage locations.

This article is part of the theme issue ‘Interdisciplinary approaches for uncovering the impacts of architecture on collective behaviour’.
Original languageEnglish
Article number20170240
JournalPhilosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences
Issue number1753
Early online date2 Jul 2018
Publication statusPublished - 19 Aug 2018


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