3.5 year EPSRC PhD studentship available for September 2013 Physical crowds and psychological crowds: Applying self-categorization theory to computer simulation of intergroup events

Project supervisors: Dr John Drury and Dr Andy Philippides

This project will examine the behaviour of different psychological crowds within the same physical crowd. It will apply concepts from social psychology to crowd modelling, using a combination of psychological methods and computer simulation.

Recent approaches to the computer modelling of crowds have proved highly effective in explaining emergent patterns in aggregates of people and small group behaviour within crowd flow. What has yet to be modelled is crowd behaviour in intergroup settings – that is, situations where a physical crowd or aggregate contains two or more psychological crowds. Examples of this situation where there is both coordination and behavioural differentiation include football matches (fans of two opposing teams) and demonstrations/counter-demonstrations. In social psychology, these kinds of collective phenomena are explained in terms of social identity, which refers to self-categorization with a social group. While a number of accounts of crowd simulation have highlighted the importance of social identity, this has not been incorporated into models; and no one has yet modelled situations in which one physical crowd contains two or more psychological crowds.

This PhD studentship will address this lack by operationalizing concepts from self-categorization theory to model large group behaviour where there is more than one such large group present. The successful candidate will use standard methodologies in psychology and computer simulation – specifically agent-based modelling – to model crowd behaviour. Within this framework, the student will be able to select the type of scenario, form of analysis, simulation techniques, and details of experimental design. Supervision will be by Dr John Drury, a social psychologist specializing in crowd behaviour, and Dr Andy Philippides, a computer scientist specializing in simulation of behaviour.

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Applications for this full-time studentship (funded for a duration of three and half years) should be made by 5.00pm, on 31st July 2013.

The studentship pays the tuition fee, and a maintenance allowance. The maintenance allowance for 2013/14 is £13,726. 

Eligibility requirements for potential candidates:

  • UK and EU candidates are eligible to apply. Candidates may not be eligible for the full award if they do not meet UK residency requirements: http://www.epsrc.ac.uk/skills/students/help/Pages/eligibility.aspx
  • Candidates must have, or expect to obtain, either:
    • a first or a high upper second class honours undergraduate degree, or equivalent qualification, and/or a Master’s degree in Psychology or a related discipline. Programming experience is desirable but not essential
    • a first class or a high upper second class honours undergraduate degree, or equivalent qualification in Computer Science or a related discipline. Formal Psychology training (at Master’s level or similar) is essential.           

Guidance for applicants: Please send your initial enquires by email: For the attention of ‘Postgraduate Coordinator’ to:  psychology@sussex.ac.uk

If you wish to discuss the details of this PhD project further, please contact Dr John Drury j.drury@sussex.ac.uk

Details of application procedures can be found at:  http://www.sussex.ac.uk/study/pg/applying/

Candidates should provide:* A personal statement detailing why you wish to carry out doctoral research (up to 1500 words). This should include a discussion of your specific research interests within the scope of the advertised area. 

* A current transcript with full details of performance on all completed courses.

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