crowds have to police themselves
In recent decades, detailed analytical research has produced ever-more sophisticated insights into crowd behavior.
“Crowds have an amazing ability to police themselves, self-regulate, and actually display a lot of pro-social behaviour, supporting others in their group,” says Anne Templeton, an academic at Edinburgh University who studies crowd psychology. She points to the 2017 Manchester Arena terrorist attack, in which CCTV footage showed members of the public performing first aid on the wounded before emergency services arrived, and Mancunians rushed to provide food, shelter, transport and emotional support for the victims. “People provide an amazing amount of help in emergencies to people they don’t know, especially when they’re part of an in-group.”
Strange things happen to our brains when we’re in a crowd we’ve chosen to be part of, says Templeton. We don’t just feel happier and more confident, we also have a lower threshold of disgust. This is why festivalgoers will happily share drinks (and by dint of their proximity, sweat) with strangers, or Hajj pilgrims will share the sometimes bloody razors used to shave their heads. In a crowd, we feel safer from harm.
from The power of crowds by Dan Hancox.