Better Understanding Crowds (03-30-22)

People who design public spaces where crowding can be an issue will be intrigued by the findings of a new paper published in the Proceedings of the Royal Society B (and available free of charge here:  A related press release reports that “A new model . . . takes the point of view of an individual crowd member, and is remarkably accurate at predicting actual crowd flow, its developers say. The model . . . illustrates the role of visual perception in crowd movement. It shows how crowd members who are visible from a participant’s viewpoint determine how that participant follows the crowd and what path they take. . . . findings from case studies like this could be extrapolated to other situations in which people or animals unconsciously coordinate their behavior — such as on social media. . . .  In both situations, there is the same strong tendency for a person to imitate others around them. . . . [but] when one group starts to diverge too much from a person’s current ‘direction,’ the person will reject that group and follow another group moving in a less divergent direction.”

“Seen and ‘Herd’:  Collective Motion in Crowds is largely Determined by Participants’ Field of Vision.”  2022.  Press release, Brown University,