Mass Psychology Revisited: Insights from Social Psychology, Neuroscience and Simulation

  • Thomas Brudermann
Conference paper


Mass psychology plays a role in many different phenomena like human stampedes, financial bubbles, fashion trends or political movements. Although of different nature, phenomena driven by mass psychology have a common ground: Individual decision making is replaced by psychological contagion, and facts are replaced by opinions about facts. The aim of the paper is to illustrate how technological and methodological progresses in recent years advance the understanding for mass dynamics. Neurosciences allow for a better understanding of human behavior on the individual level; studies inter alia indicate that human brains are not well-equipped for independent decision making. Moreover, agent-based simulations close the analytic gap between individual decisions and collective outcomes. Simple simulation models for example reveal that the susceptibility of people to certain messages, opinions or emotions is the key factor for large-scale propagation of social phenomena. Results from both fields hence contribute to a better understanding of mass dynamics.


Mass psychology Crowd psychology Collective behavior Collective dynamics Social influence Neuroscience Agent-based modeling Simulation 



I thank Linda Pelzmann, Thomas Fenzl, Karin Dobernig and Nina Braschel for their comments. Furthermore I thank several participants of the PED 2012 conference for remarks and discussions which notably improved this paper.


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.ISIS/Institute for Systems Science, Innovation and Sustainability ResearchUniversity of GrazGrazAUSTRIA

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