Students Staff

31 July 2013

Crowd behaviour research featured on Dara O Briain’s Science Club

Research into the way crowds behave during emergencies by the Department of Mathematical Sciences has been featured on Dara O Briain’s Science Club on BBC Two.

Science journalist Alok Jha took part in an experiment led by Dr Edward Codling and Dr Nikolai Bode as part of a feature about crowd behaviour on the popular science show.

The experiment, which centred around an evacuation scenario, was staged at East 15 Acting School and a group of students took part alongside Alok.

They were told to leave the building using a particular exit when an alarm was sounded. However, some of those taking part had been told to deliberately leave using the wrong exit to see how others might behave.

Dr Codling said: “Two thirds of the group went the wrong way so if this had been a real evacuation scenario they could have got into trouble.
“What we are interested in is how many people taking the wrong decision will influence quite a large crowd. It is interesting the control we have in a crowd on the decision making of the crowd as a whole.”

Alok admitted afterwards that he had found himself struggling not to be influenced by others within the experiment despite knowing beforehand what the scenario involved.

He said: “We are all intelligent individuals and we like to think we go through this world making rational decisions about what we do. What this research shows is subconsciously we love to be part of the crowd more than we think.”


Mathematical Sciences "Real world solutions" - Dr Edd Coddling from University of Essex on Vimeo.


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