Simple Heuristics and the Modelling of Crowd Behaviours

Conference paper

DOI: 10.1007/978-3-319-02447-9_5

Cite this paper as:
Moussaïd M., Nelson J.D. (2014) Simple Heuristics and the Modelling of Crowd Behaviours. In: Weidmann U., Kirsch U., Schreckenberg M. (eds) Pedestrian and Evacuation Dynamics 2012. Springer, Cham


A crowd of pedestrians is a complex system that exhibits a rich variety of self-organized collective behaviors, such as lane formation, stop-and-go waves, or crowd turbulence. Understanding the mechanisms of crowd dynamics requires establishing a link between the local behavior of pedestrians during interactions, and the global dynamics of the crowd at high density. For this, the elaboration of a model is necessary.

In this contribution, we will make a distinction between two kinds of modelling methods: outcome models that are often based on analogies with Newtonian mechanics, and process models based on concepts of cognitive science. While outcome models describe directly the movements of a pedestrian by means of repulsive forces or probabilities to move from one place to another, process models generate the movement from the bottom-up by describing the underlying cognitive process used by the pedestrian during navigation.

Here, we will describe and compare two representatives of outcome and process models, namely the social force model on the one hand, and the heuristic model on the other hand. In particular, we will describe the strength and the limitations of each approach, and discuss possible future improvements for process models.


Outcome models Process models Pedestrian behaviour Crowd dynamics Complex systems Social forces Simple heuristics 

Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Center for Adaptive Behavior and CognitionMax Planck Institute for Human DevelopmentBerlinGermany

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