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      Waiting and walking with strangers: a socio-psychological pedestrian experiment on joint action in anonymous situations

      1 , 2 , , 1 , 2 , 3
      Royal Society Open Science
      The Royal Society
      pedestrian dynamics, crowd psychology, group behaviour, use of space, anonymity, mixed methods

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          Research on pedestrian dynamics has generally dealt with temporary gatherings of people who do not know each other personally. These gatherings are often framed as highly individualized encounters in which social interactions play no or only a marginal role. However, recent research based on self-categorization theory showed the relevance of salient social identity for crowd dynamics. Drawing on the interactionist approach of social identity theory and the work of Erving Goffman and Alfred Schütz, this paper aims to show that anonymous encounters are carefully concerted social phenomena. The authors present the results of an exploratory social psychological experiment ( N = 83), in which groups of participants were asked to wait for 5 min in a designated area with different communicative conditions and then to walk to a narrow exit. Based on the assumption that communication and conformity to expectations influences the behaviour of those present, we introduced four modifications during the waiting time and analysed questionnaire data and video recordings in a mixed-methods design. The results show that direct communication correlates with higher speed, cell phone use with greater distance to the nearest neighbour, and unexpected behaviour with slower movement.

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          Most cited references37

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          Social influence in small groups: An interactive model of social identity formation

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            Individuality and social influence in groups: inductive and deductive routes to group identity.

            A distinction between forms of social identity formation in small interactive groups is investigated. In groups in which a common identity is available or given, norms for individual behavior may be deduced from group properties (deductive identity). In groups in which interpersonal relations are central, a group identity may also be induced from individual group members' contributions, making individuality and individual distinctiveness a defining feature of the group (inductive identity). Two studies examined the prediction that depersonalization produced by anonymity has opposite effects for groups in which social identity has been induced or deduced. Results confirmed the prediction that depersonalization increases social influence in groups whose identity was more deductive. In contrast, depersonalization decreases social influence in inductive identity groups. Implications for the role of social identity in small groups are discussed. ((c) 2005 APA, all rights reserved).
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              The Nature of Collective Resilience: Survivor Reactions to the 2005 London Bombings

              Accounts from over 90 survivors and 56 witnesses of the 2005 London bombings were analysed to determine the relative prevalence of mass behaviors associated with either psychosocial vulnerability (e.g. ‘selfishness’, mass panic) or collective resilience (e.g. help, unity). ‘Selfish’ behaviors were found to be rare; mutual helping was more common. There is evidence for (a) a perceived continued danger of death after the explosions; (b) a sense of unity amongst at least some survivors, arising from this perceived danger; (c) a link between this sense of unity and helping; and (d) risk-taking to help strangers. We suggest a novel explanation for this evidence of ‘collective resilience’, based on self-categorization theory, according to which common fate entails a redefinition of self (from ‘me’ to ‘us’) and hence enhanced concern for others in the crowd.

                Author and article information

                Role: Funding acquisitionRole: Project administrationRole: SupervisionRole: Writing – review & editing
                R Soc Open Sci
                R Soc Open Sci
                Royal Society Open Science
                The Royal Society
                June 7, 2023
                June 2023
                June 7, 2023
                : 10
                : 6
                : 221601
                [ 1 ] Civil Safety Research, Research Center Jülich, IAS-7, , Wilhelm-Johnen-Straße, 52428 Jülich, Germany
                [ 2 ] Department Social Theory and Social Psychology, Ruhr University Bochum, , Universitätsstraße 150, 44801 Bochum, Germany
                [ 3 ] University of St Gallen, , Dufourstrasse 50, 9000 St Gallen, Switzerland
                Author notes

                Electronic supplementary material is available online at https://doi.org/10.6084/m9.figshare.c.6662754.

                Author information
                © 2023 The Authors.

                Published by the Royal Society under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/, which permits unrestricted use, provided the original author and source are credited.

                : December 13, 2022
                : May 12, 2023
                Funded by: Bundesministerium für Bildung und Forschung, http://dx.doi.org/10.13039/501100002347;
                Award ID: 13N14531
                Psychology and Cognitive Neuroscience
                Research Articles

                pedestrian dynamics,crowd psychology,group behaviour,use of space,anonymity,mixed methods


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