Crowd counting: a behavioural economics perspective

Phillips, Peter J. ORCID: and Pohl, Gabriela ORCID: (2021) Crowd counting: a behavioural economics perspective. Quality and Quantity, 55 (6). pp. 2253-2270. ISSN 0033-5177


Developments in technology have facilitated the emergence of new crowd counting organisations. Some of the organisations have established platforms to disseminate their data, making it available to researchers for the first time. These databases promise to increase the quality and quantity of research in various fields. In the late 2010s, specialist crowd counting organisations emerged with the sole purpose of counting crowds at protests and disseminating the results, sometimes in a purely partisan manner. Because of the contemporary relevance of protest behaviour, we frame our discussion within this context. For social scientists considering the utilisation of these new databases, it is essential that crowd numbers be linked to underlying human behaviour in a way that promises a chain of connections to investigate and explore. We use behavioural economics to show why relative crowd size may be important for human decision-makers. And we show how the significance of relative crowd size relates to other aspects of the human decision-making process, including risk preferences and probability assessments. Far from being a theory of protest behaviour, we present a behavioural economics-based primer for empirical researchers and social scientists engaging with newly available crowd counting data. The conclusions may apply in other contexts and might be extended to encompass specific types of behaviour, including aggression and violence. Indeed, the conclusions may guide the analysis of the emergence of the crowd counting organisations themselves.

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Item Type: Article (Commonwealth Reporting Category C)
Refereed: Yes
Item Status: Live Archive
Additional Information: Files associated with this item cannot be displayed due to copyright restrictions.
Faculty/School / Institute/Centre: Current - Faculty of Business, Education, Law and Arts - School of Business (18 Jan 2021 -)
Faculty/School / Institute/Centre: Current - Faculty of Business, Education, Law and Arts - School of Humanities and Communication (1 Mar 2019 -)
Date Deposited: 23 Feb 2021 01:45
Last Modified: 21 Jun 2022 04:56
Uncontrolled Keywords: crowd counting, behavioural economics, relative crowd size, protests, decision-making
Fields of Research (2008): 16 Studies in Human Society > 1608 Sociology > 160807 Sociological Methodology and Research Methods
14 Economics > 1401 Economic Theory > 140104 Microeconomic Theory
Fields of Research (2020): 38 ECONOMICS > 3801 Applied economics > 380102 Behavioural economics
38 ECONOMICS > 3803 Economic theory > 380304 Microeconomic theory
38 ECONOMICS > 3801 Applied economics > 380113 Public economics - public choice
44 HUMAN SOCIETY > 4410 Sociology > 441006 Sociological methodology and research methods
Socio-Economic Objectives (2008): E Expanding Knowledge > 97 Expanding Knowledge > 970114 Expanding Knowledge in Economics
Socio-Economic Objectives (2020): 23 LAW, POLITICS AND COMMUNITY SERVICES > 2302 Government and politics > 230201 Civics and citizenship
23 LAW, POLITICS AND COMMUNITY SERVICES > 2302 Government and politics > 230203 Political systems
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