from the every-man-before-he-die-should-strive-to-learn-what-he-is-running-to-and-from-and-why dept.
Many media outlets referred to what happened as a "mass panic" or a "stampede." But such terms are not appropriate to the situation, according to John Drury, a social psychologist at the University of Sussex.
"People follow others when they perceive these others as relevant, so it is not mindless," Drury says. "The problems come when the others don't take the danger seriously enough. People more often die in emergencies through not evacuating quickly rather than through haste."
Stampeding is a primitive, instinctive behavior of herd animals, and panic implies a rashness or irrationality in response to a real or perceived danger, Drury writes on his academic blog. But crowds shouldn't be compared to unintentional, mindless mobs. Instead Drury refers to these events as progressive crowd collapses.
Shared identity in the crowd (eg. "Cubs fans"), exit design, crowd traffic control, and sight lines are all factors in stampedes. The researchers are modeling different mitigation strategies like precise position monitoring via GPS event bracelets.