Modelling Crowd Behaviour: Exploring the relationship between
alcohol, crowd dynamics and violence: Aggressive behaviour is more frequent in drunk crowds compared to sober crowds.
However, there exists no predicative theory on why intoxicated crowds should
display greater levels of violence as crowd density increases.
Essentially, intoxication disrupts social interactions between individuals.
As emergent affiliative behaviours, such as line formation, that serve to increase flow and minimize invasions to personal space
and therefore goal attainment, are a product of individual level interactions
it is argued that intoxication disrupts social interactions, increases individuals levels of stress and therefore aggression.
A model for this behaviour has been developed. This model adopts a particle model of crowd behaviour. Models of crowd behaviour,
derived from particle physics,
have been successfully developed to account for collective emergent features in both human and non-human organisms through modeling individual level interactions. Simulations are consistent with the hypothesis that intoxication disrupts the
emergence of affiliative behaviour.
This work has recently been cited by South Wales Police/Cardiff City Council as an influence on their decision to pedestrianise St Mary Street and minimise trouble due to crowding in the nighttime economy. The Cabinet Office Emergency Planning College highlighted the work in the strategy documents, "Understanding Crowd Behaviour"as key in modelling and managing intoxicated crowds. This work has also been featured in the general international press including national newspapers, New Scientist and Science (see links below).
Key Paper: A particle model of crowd behavior: Exploring the relationship between alcohol, crowd dynamics and violence (PDF), Moore, S. C., Flajslik, M., Rosin, P. L. & Marshall, D. (2008). Aggression and Violent Behavior, 13, pp 413-422. ISSN 0162-8828
This work was peroformed in conjuction with Dr Simon Moore of the School of Dentistry's Violence and Society Research Group. The main web page describing this research is here.
There has been quite a lot of press coverage on this research. New Scientist and Science have reported on this research into crowd related violence. There has been international press and other coverage where some journalists have completely missed the point! Moral of story is that journalists may not be that intelligent and be careful what you say to the press. Go here for more on this issue.