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Social identification moderates the effect of crowd density on safety at the Hajj.

Alnabulsi, Hani; Drury, John.
Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A; 111(25): 9091-6, 2014 Jun 24.
Artigo Inglês | MEDLINE | ID: mdl-24927593
Crowd safety is a major concern for those attending and managing mass gatherings, such as the annual Hajj or pilgrimage to Mecca (also called Makkah). One threat to crowd safety at such events is crowd density. However, recent research also suggests that psychological membership of crowds can have positive benefits. We tested the hypothesis that the effect of density on safety might vary depending on whether there is shared social identification in the crowd. We surveyed 1,194 pilgrims at the Holy Mosque, Mecca, during the 2012 Hajj. Analysis of the data showed that the negative effect of crowd density on reported safety was moderated by social identification with the crowd. Whereas low identifiers reported reduced safety with greater crowd density, high identifiers reported increased safety with greater crowd density. Mediation analysis suggested that a reason for these moderation effects was the perception that other crowd members were supportive. Differences in reported safety across national groups (Arab countries and Iran compared with the rest) were also explicable in terms of crowd identification and perceived support. These findings support a social identity account of crowd behavior and offer a novel perspective on crowd safety management.
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