Sunday 9 January 2011

Perceiving and managing crowds – a survey

We all have ideas about the psychology of crowds. Some of these ideas may be based on actual experience, some may be based on common-sense ideas that exist in popular culture. Research has begun to document these popular representations of crowd psychology. Such research is more than academic. It matters – indeed, it can be a matter of life and death – whether those who have responsibility for event management, policing, crowd safety and emergency planning and disaster response have accurate models of how crowds behave.

With Dr David Novelli ( ) here at Sussex and Dr Clifford Stott at the University of Liverpool ( ) I am involved in a large-scale study, surveying crowd management professionals on their beliefs about crowd behaviour in mass emergencies and their views on appropriate crowd management policies and practices. While considerable work has been carried out on the role of police officers’ beliefs about crowds in ‘public order’ dynamics (see ), this is the first time a systematic study has been carried out on professionals’ beliefs about crowds in emergencies.

If the previous work is anything to go by, the findings from this study will contribute to a better understanding of crowd management in emergencies - enhancing collective resilience in times of danger.

We are looking for the following types of people to take part in our survey:

UK event safety/security personnel – including stewards of sports and music events
UK event managers/ planners
UK emergency services personnel (particularly police officers)
Members of the public (for comparison)

If you or anyone you know is willing to take part in our survey, which takes around 15 minutes to complete, see the link below:

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