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Anybody would kick and push and trample, thus emphazising his singularity with all force, resulting in a highly uncoordinated mass movement. These definitional difficulties arose in a scientific environment which for decades mainly concentrated on the dangerous potential of masses as a whole, rather than on the security of individuals within a crowd. They instead started studying the individual behavior and psychology involved, challenging the former notions of irrationality and asociality.

To the actor in the situation who does not recognise the existence of these alternatives, attempting to fight his way to the only exit available may seem a very logical choice as opposed to burning to death. Such an individual-based perspective on mass dynamics offered an alternative way for representing, evaluating and addressing crowd disasters. Research emancipated from former accounts which sought to bind together individual with mass psychology and continued with the quest for a group mind , a somehow identical state of mind of people in a crowd.

When scientists attempted to identify the effects of cooperative or competing behavior in cases of restricted escape routes by simulated room evacuations and psychological laboratory- and group experiments, thereby trying to evaluate the rationality of individual behavior in cases of panic, these endeavours resulted in rather insufficent data. The single group in the psychological experiments has been assumed to possess the essential properties of the far larger crowd.

Socio-psychological approaches from the s to s thus inevitably neglected the effects of specific spatial environments on crowd dynamics. Moreover, an empirical account of mass panic seemed little feasible in terms of realism.

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Neither would it be easy to evoke a human mass panic in an experimental setting as such, nor would the conjoint threat to the sample individuals be without problems from an ethical standpoint. And if one takes into account some models developed in engineering during the same time which tried to describe human mass movements in analogy to physical phemomena like hydraulic flows or granular particles in pipe systems and tanks, they introduced their particular set of flaws: For example, they reduce the individual potentials of deviating behavior to identical elements, and, according to Jonathan Sime, put forward a.

As an outcome, quite a few studies began to look at case studies of real-life disasters, taking them as empirical evidence for studying panic behavior. Panic behavior in the classical understanding seemed indeed to be a myth. But even if this turnaround somehow rehabilitated the image of the psychology involved in human crowd dynamics and assigned a decisive role to cognitive decision-making and not merely to affective behaviors, these models were only able to look backwards in history. Undeniably, they insinuated consequences for the design of disaster management strategies which started to include more direct and distributed communication of officials with a panicking crowd instead of just trying to regulate it by centralized brute force.

Thus, the planning of preventive measures of undesired crowd dynamics in environments like stadiums and other highly populated buildings or jammed plazas called for complementary strategies. These approaches aimed at complementing the socio-psychological findings with computer models that would provide the means for defining and predicting specific parameters of crowd dynamics and disasters.

The formerly criticized simplifications into non-thinking objects in mechanistic model analogies are also complicated and elevated to another level: In so-called Agent-based Computer Simulations henceforth: ABM , agents can act as individual or group decision-makers. Autonomy replaces the former and easier modeling of homogeneous objects. Individual agents can be described by a variety of different and differing agent attributes and agent methods. The former define the internal dispositions of an agent, the latter determine the capabilities of an agent to interact with others and the environment.

We will rather focus on the issue of crowd dynamics at high densities and under psychological stress. In this process, the models couple the earlier mechanistic references with bio-physical groundings of collective behavior.

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The latter are based on the mathematical definition and the computer-generation of a variety of autonomous virtual agents and their simulated inter-individual information exchange. Some groundbreaking work in ABM derives from the simulation of biological systems such as swarms, flocks, and herds, which show how complex behavior on a collective scale can emerge even from a set of very few and simple decision and behavior rules in each individual.

Since their design in the mids, models of these kinds have been advanced to far more complicated agent systems. This led to a more realistic behavior in relation to other agents and the simulated environment compared with the mechanistic models, for example, when it comes to cohesion or avoidance or to the coordination with neighboring individuals. Or they are pre-programmed with certain preferred cultural determinants or social forces , 56 for example with conventions on how to avoid other pedestrians or to choose a certain side when walking in a corridor.

These dynamics only emerge synthetically in the runtime of their simulation models and are not observable by real-life experimentation or by pure mathematical-analytical approaches. As an outcome, a large enough number of such lifelike autonomous agents , put together in a virtual spatial environment, would show a collective behavior similar to real life in specific situations. And this holds true especially for evacuation scenarios with high densities, where human behavior is much easier to model and to predict due to the entailed environmental and perceptional constraints.

By the modulation of the parameters involved one then can identify and tune the relevant factors involved by experimenting with the simulation model. However, these ABM do not attempt to implement a sort of artificial psychology , since internal processes in the agent are only relevant insofar as they result in certain motions in time and space, and thus in the emergence of certain global patterns. The models do not attempt to describe the emotions or the bodily affects involved in crowd dynamics, but only calculate with the motions defined by individual agent movement capabilities and environmental constraints.

As an outcome, human crowd behavior can no longer be described as a degeneration of humans into animals. Rather, the computational abstraction of biological movement rules enables an operative and quantitative description of crowd dynamics in humans. And furthermore, the network affects, as defined by Thacker, cannot be separated from the inherent network effects, since the models realistically calculate cases of panic only with the help of effective simulated motion data. Or, to put it shortly: There is little point in pursuing strategies of affective computing 58 when it comes to realistically modeling the dynamics of affective behavior in human collectives.

Physically described and quantified effects depict what had been assigned to affects, and the more advanced models realistically produce crowd phenomena like the freezing-by-heating -effect, the faster-is-slower- paradox, or the emergence of phantom panics. In this context, one simulates for example the behavior of pedestrians in various spatial environments, with differing velocities and grades of density. As a consequence, one can for instance identify feasible architectural interventions to improve the speed of evacuation of a certain building. It seems interesting in this context that the computer simulation tools are not exclusively developed in scientific laboratories, but that SFX companies like the abovementioned Massive Software also provide sophisticated engineering simulations.

Those simulations can guide the modelers to counter-intuitive solutions, e. The situations can be tested under different environmental conditions, for example by adding smoke or fires to the scenarios which further constrain the orientation of the agents. Once typical patterns e.

Coined crowd sensing , it was tested in and then applied during the London Olympics. The system is able to infer and visualize crowd density, crowd turbulence, crowd velocity and crowd pressure in real time. This works by the collected location updates from festival visitors. Then, it sent the data back to the running model. The system allegedly helped to assess occurring crowd conditions and to spot critical situations faster compared to traditional video-based methods.

Calculating disasters today means to coalesce empirical data of past catastrophies, observational data of mass events, and the computer-based experimentation and scenario-building with virtual ABM models of realistic agents and spatial environments. It thus combines analytical and synthetic approaches, supported by advanced visualization techniques, in the areas of crowd simulation, capturing, and sensing. However, one would still rather question the applicability of the proposed feedback loop, as most people with the crowd sensing app most likely would not read the individualized directives appearing on their smartphones in the case of panic.

The employment of ABM in crowd control and evacuation studies signifies a turn from socio-psychological approaches and studies of group behaviors to physically describable parameters. Despite the fact that ABM incorporate findings from the biological study of animal collectives, they do not seek to directly determine a certain nature of affects like fear or panic, but facilitate virtual computer experiments that indirectly account for the spreading of affects by making observable collective movement patterns.

All three of these writers were familiar with each other's works and drew similar conclusions about mass crowds at a critical time during the formation of new theories of social action. However, his book was not accessible to the German sociologist Georg Simmel until , when the German edition appeared under the title Psychologie des Auflaufs und der Massenverbrechen. The English edition was published in as The Criminal Crowd. Each event galvanised a large segment of the population.

Paris, in the 19th century, was one of the largest industrialized cities in Europe and was in the forefront of rising forces of anti-Semitism and far right politics. In particular, the German conquest of Alsace and Lorraine had fueled nationalist and right-wing sentiments in the country. It is in that context that Le Bon creates his concept of 'The Crowd.

This model treats 'The Crowd' as a unit in its composition and robs every individual member of their opinions, values and beliefs.

Psychologie der Massen

Anonymity provides to rational individuals a feeling of invincibility and the loss of personal responsibility. An individual becomes primitive, unreasoning, and emotional. Contagion refers to the spread in the crowd of particular behaviors such as rioters smashing windows and individuals sacrifice their personal interest for the collective interest.


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Suggestibility is the mechanism through which the contagion is achieved. They are not gifted with keen foresight They are especially recruited from the ranks of those morbidly nervous excitable half-deranged persons who are bordering on madness. George Lachmann Mosse , former History professor in University of Wisconsin-Madison has claimed that fascist theories of leadership that emerged during the s owed much to Le Bon's theories of crowd psychology.

Adolf Hitler is known to have read The Crowd [3] and in his Mein Kampf he drew largely on the propaganda techniques proposed by Le Bon. In his famous book Propaganda , he declared that a major feature of democracy was the manipulation of the mass mind by media and advertising. Theodore Roosevelt , as well as many other American progressives in the early 20th century, were also deeply affected by Le Bon's writings. In , he was commissioned by the French government to travel around Asia and report on the civilisations there. In this, Le Bon praised Arabs highly for their contributions to civilisation, but criticised Islamism as an agent of stagnation.

He next published Les Civilisations de l'Inde , in which he applauded Indian architecture, art and religion but argued that Indians were comparatively inferior to Europeans in regard to scientific advancements, and that this had facilitated British domination. The same year, he delivered a speech to the International Colonial Congress criticising colonial policies which included attempts of cultural assimilation , stating: "Leave to the natives their customs, their institutions and their laws.

On his travels, Le Bon travelled largely on horseback and noticed that techniques used by horse breeders and trainers varied dependent on the region. He returned to Paris and in , while riding a high-spirited horse, he was bucked off and narrowly escaped death. He was unsure as to what caused him to be thrown off the horse, and decided to begin a study of what he had done wrong as a rider. This work became a respected cavalry manual, and Le Bon extrapolated his studies on the behaviour of horses to develop theories on early childhood education.

Both were best-sellers, with Psychologie des Foules being translated into nineteen languages within one year of its appearance. These works rankled the largely socialist academic establishment of France. Le Bon constructed a home laboratory in the early s, and in reported observing "black light", a new kind of radiation that he believed was distinct from, but possibly related to, X-rays and cathode rays.

In , Le Bon began a series of weekly luncheons to which he invited prominent intellectuals, nobles and ladies of fashion. Einstein responded and conceded that a mass—energy equivalence had been proposed before him, but only the theory of relativity had cogently proved it.

Le Bon discontinued his research in physics in , and turned again to psychology. He then released Psychologie des Temps Nouveaux before resigning from his position as Professor of Psychology and Allied Sciences at the University of Paris and retiring to his home. He became a Grand-Croix of the Legion of Honour in In putting an end to the long, diverse and fruitful activity of Gustave Le Bon, death deprived our culture of a truly remarkable man.

His was a man of most exceptional intelligence; it sprang entirely from within himself; he was his own master, his own initiator Science and philosophy have suffered a cruel loss. According to Steve Reicher , Le Bon was not the first crowd psychologist : "The first debate in crowd psychology was actually between two criminologists , Scipio Sighele and Gabriel Tarde , concerning how to determine and assign criminal responsibility within a crowd and hence who to arrest.

He considered this as a shortcoming from those authors who only considered the criminal aspect of crowd psychology. Le Bon theorised that the new entity, the "psychological crowd", which emerges from incorporating the assembled population not only forms a new body but also creates a collective "unconsciousness". As a group of people gather together and coalesces to form a crowd, there is a "magnetic influence given out by the crowd" that transmutes every individual's behaviour until it becomes governed by the " group mind ".

This model treats the crowd as a unit in its composition which robs every individual member of their opinions, values and beliefs; as Le Bon states: "An individual in a crowd is a grain of sand amid other grains of sand, which the wind stirs up at will". Le Bon detailed three key processes that create the psychological crowd: i Anonymity, ii Contagion and iii Suggestibility. Anonymity provides to rational individuals a feeling of invincibility and the loss of personal responsibility.

An individual becomes primitive, unreasoning, and emotional. This lack of self-restraint allows individuals to "yield to instincts" and to accept the instinctual drives of their " racial unconscious ". For Le Bon, the crowd inverts Darwin's law of evolution and becomes atavistic , proving Ernst Haeckel 's embryological theory: " ontogeny recapitulates phylogeny ".

Contagion refers to the spread in the crowd of particular behaviours and individuals sacrifice their personal interest for the collective interest. Suggestibility is the mechanism through which the contagion is achieved; as the crowd coalesces into a singular mind, suggestions made by strong voices in the crowd create a space for the racial unconscious to come to the forefront and guide its behaviour.

Gustave le Bon and the Behaviour of the Crowd - SciHi BlogSciHi Blog

At this stage, the psychological crowd becomes homogeneous and malleable to suggestions from its strongest members. They are not gifted with keen foresight They are especially recruited from the ranks of those morbidly nervous excitable half-deranged persons who are bordering on madness.

George Lachmann Mosse claimed that fascist theories of leadership that emerged during the s owed much to Le Bon's theories of crowd psychology.