Coronavirus information and guidance

Research fellow joins project team

11 December 2020

Dr Maïka Telga joined the School of Management in December 2020 to work as a postdoctoral research fellow on an Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) funded project investigating how crowds respond to perceived threats. The project will examine the social factors that determine collective responses in a potentially threatening context. Understanding these responses is important because underreaction to a real threat can cost lives, and overreaction to a false threat can similarly cause distress and injury.

Maïka will work together with Dr Fergus Neville from the School of Management, Dr Stephen Reicher from the School of Psychology and Neuroscience, and a broader team of researchers on a series of experiments using virtual reality. Participants in these experiments will be virtually taken to a recreation of Oxford Street, a popular shopping area in London, where a real 'crowd flight' incident occurred in 2017. An ambiguous loud sound was interpreted by some people as a gunshot leading them to flee. The police later revealed that no shots had been fired.

Recreating the context of that incident, the research team will analyse people's response to threats in relation to a series of factors. These will include how other crowd members react in the scenario and the participant's relationship to other crowd members and authority. The outcomes from this project are expected to provide a better understanding of crowd responses to perceived hostile threats and will inform new guidance for emergency services.

See more information about the project at Perceived threats and 'stampedes': a relational model of collective fear responses and follow the team's progress on @Crowd_Flight.