Crowd panic bypassing common sense Science


the first large public event after the corona, the religious celebration of the Lag BaOmer rabbi

Shimon bar Yochain

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in the grave ended in disaster in April.

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As thousands of people descended a narrow path from Mount Meron, part of the front slipped and fell. Knowledge did not progress for those who followed, the crowd pushed forward and trampled the fallen to their feet. In the chaos, 45 people died and 150 were injured.

“When considering the emergence of panic in a crowd, both physics and social psychology are needed. Neither is enough on its own to explain the situation, ”says those who debated the topic in June

Anton von Schantz

From Aalto University.

The approach is new. The classic of crowd dynamics is a professor at the EHT University of Zurich

Dirk Helbingin

numerical simulation model for crowd modeling.

The model published by Helbing at the turn of the millennium is widely used and correctly describes many phenomena. In the model, however, the individuals are similar and have no individual will.

In the model, the crowd squeezing through the door resembles an hourglass packing sand in a narrow spot. Everyone rushes out as if pulled by gravity. It increases the pressure on the doorway and slows the exit. Helbing’s model simplifies too much, von Schantz says.

“People are not grains of sand, but active actors. I was interested in how people’s own behavior affected the situation. ”

Schantz combined the choices of individuals with the physical reality described by Helbing using an evolutionary game theoretical model.

“We took as a starting point that every individual can behave in two ways at any one time: either patiently or impatiently. This behavior varies rationally depending on how close to the individual are acting and which individual the individual thinks will facilitate their own exit. ”

No one in the model behaves senselessly but on the contrary maximizes their advantage. At the same time, the crowd is guided by the boundary conditions of the environment, such as the shape of the space and the walls restricting the passage.

Thus, the model simulates a situation where the reactions of each actor depend on the others. Its results have also been confirmed by empirical experiments in which subjects are placed in cramped situations.

In the model, panic led to disaster in a cramped state as those in the back row strive towards the door more eagerly than those in front of them.

“People in the back row need to push the mass forward. Then, further down in the crowd, vault structures are created in which people are squeezed together so that they cannot move forward, but are squeezed, ”von Schantz describes.

“While every individual acts rationally, the end result is bad for everyone. There is panic in the crowd. ”

How can the panic of the crowd be avoided? The obvious advice is to plan the facilities used by the troops well. If there are enough exits, fewer bottlenecks will arise.

The number of stewards leading troops can be increased. Much of the problem of crowding is due to a lack of information. If there are enough guides, the effect of the unpredictability of individuals and crowd movements will disappear.

“We’ve found in experiments that people like to follow a person they think knows the route. The guides make it possible to make use of exit routes that would otherwise be used less. ”

Source: Tiede by

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