Nav: Home

Do large human crowds exhibit a collective behavior?

January 03, 2019

By observing the collective movement of thousands of Chicago Marathon runners queueing up to the starting line, researchers find that the motion of large crowds is fluid-like and mathematically predictable. According to the new study, the collective behavior of large crowds can be described solely using principals based in hydrodynamic theory by applying a fluid-like model to crowd dynamics. The findings suggest that the predictive power of hydrodynamic crowd modeling may provide quantitative guidance in crowd management - particularly important in situations where crowd dynamics can turn dangerous, like in a panic situation created by accidents or violence. Understanding the collective movements of animals has largely been based on complex interactions between individuals within the group - each with a set of "rules" and motivations that govern behavior. For humans, however, this agent-based approach is limited in its ability to describe the movement of crowds. Presenting a different approach, Nicolas Bain and Denis Bartolo ignore individual agents and instead treat the crowd as an entity itself in order to establish a hydrodynamic theory of large-scale human movement free of behavioral assumption. Bain and Bartolo observed the motion of runners moving slowly towards the starting corrals of the Chicago Marathon and then stopping as small groups began the race. With each movement, the authors identified waves in crowd density and velocity cascading from the front of the line. What's more, these waves traveled throughout the crowd at a constant speed. The dynamics were able to be predictively modeled in other races that the researchers evaluated, including in Paris and Atlanta. "The success of Bain and Bartolo's approach opens many avenues or future work for collective behavior researchers more generally," writes Nicholas Ouellette in a related Perspective. Ouellette says this work lays the foundation for an empirically grounded theory of group behavior.

American Association for the Advancement of Science

Related Movement Articles:

Do as i say: Translating language into movement
Researchers at Carnegie Mellon University have developed a computer model that can translate text describing physical movements directly into simple computer-generated animations, a first step toward someday generating movies directly from scripts.
'The way you move': Body structure brings coordinated movement
A computer model shows that a starfish-like animal can coordinate rhythmic motion based on body structure without the brain telling them to do so.
Flexible generators turn movement into energy
Rice University researchers produce triboelectric nanogenerators with laser-induced graphene. The flexible devices turn movement into electrical energy and could enable wearable, self-powered sensors and devices.
Climate driving new right whale movement
New research connects recent changes in the movement of North Atlantic right whales to decreased food availability and rising temperatures in Gulf of Maine's deep waters.
Designing biological movement on the nanometer scale
Synthetic proteins have now been created that can move in response to their environment in predictable and tunable ways.
Missing molecule hobbles cell movement
Cells are the body's workers, and they often need to move around to do their jobs.
Memories of movement are replayed randomly during sleep
After a rat has repeatedly moved from one spot to another, the same neurons that fired while the rat moved 'replay' this firing while the rat is asleep.
Movement impairments in autism could be reversible
Researchers from Cardiff University have established a link between a genetic mutation and developmental movement impairments in autism.
New insights on animal movement in fire-prone landscapes
A new Biological Reviews article considers how fire histories affect animals' movement and shape the distribution of species.
Mutations, CRISPR, and the biology behind movement disorders
Scientists at the RIKEN Center for Brain Science (CBS) in Japan have discovered how mutations related to a group of movement disorders produce their effects.
More Movement News and Movement Current Events

Top Science Podcasts

We have hand picked the top science podcasts of 2019.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

In & Out Of Love
We think of love as a mysterious, unknowable force. Something that happens to us. But what if we could control it? This hour, TED speakers on whether we can decide to fall in — and out of — love. Guests include writer Mandy Len Catron, biological anthropologist Helen Fisher, musician Dessa, One Love CEO Katie Hood, and psychologist Guy Winch.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#541 Wayfinding
These days when we want to know where we are or how to get where we want to go, most of us will pull out a smart phone with a built-in GPS and map app. Some of us old timers might still use an old school paper map from time to time. But we didn't always used to lean so heavily on maps and technology, and in some remote places of the world some people still navigate and wayfind their way without the aid of these tools... and in some cases do better without them. This week, host Rachelle Saunders...
Now Playing: Radiolab

Dolly Parton's America: Neon Moss
Today on Radiolab, we're bringing you the fourth episode of Jad's special series, Dolly Parton's America. In this episode, Jad goes back up the mountain to visit Dolly's actual Tennessee mountain home, where she tells stories about her first trips out of the holler. Back on the mountaintop, standing under the rain by the Little Pigeon River, the trip triggers memories of Jad's first visit to his father's childhood home, and opens the gateway to dizzying stories of music and migration. Support Radiolab today at