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Pedestrian Dynamics - Social Psychology


Our division studies the experience of being in a crowd and the influence of social psychological parameters on pedestrian dynamics.



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We follow a multimethod approach using quantitative as well as qualitative methods to investigate various socio-psychological mechanisms in crowds, such as social influence, emotion, or social norms. Our data include questionnaire ratings, physio-psychological data (e.g. heart rate, skin conductance level) and interview transcripts obtained through experiments, field studies and interviews.

In the early stages, pedestrian dynamics research has mainly focused on modeling and the empirical analysis of physical aspects of moving crowds. During the last years, however, the social psychological perspective has been more and more integrated to get a more comprehensive picture crowds – viewing its participants as moving particles and social beings embedded in a cultural context.

Within the wide field of social psychology in pedestrian dynamics, we concentrate on four clusters of research questions:

  • the dynamic of social norms, in particular, the social influence on pushing and shoving behavior in a crowd
  • the experience of being in a crowd and the effects of pedestrian dynamics on the well-being of participants
  • the influence of motivation on pedestrian dynamics
  • the dynamic of emotions within various forms of crowds

In the IAS-7 and beyond, we closely cooperate with physicists, mathematicians and computer scientists and thereby establish a strongly interdisciplinary approach to pedestrians and crowds. Our empirical work is developed alongside pedestrian models and simulations.

Our research aims at understanding pedestrian dynamic in order to create safer environments for crowds and to make walking as a pedestrian and participating in a crowd more enjoyable.

The division “social psychology – pedestrian dynamics” in the IAS-7 was established in 2020 and works in close cooperation with the chair of social theory and social psychology at the Ruhr-University Bochum.

Further Information:

Project description: CrowdDNA

Project website: CrowdDNA

Research project CroMa at the Ruhr-University Bochum