Main content

Stephen Reicher on the psychology of crowds

Professor Stephen Reicher of St Andrews University and Jim Al-Khalili discuss the psychology of crowd behaviour at the Free Thinking Festival at Sage Gateshead.

Stephen Reicher is a social psychologist at St Andrews University who has spent decades understanding how people behave when in a group. To do so, he's often had to immerse himself among the subjects of his studies, from the Bristol riots in 1980 to the millions of Hindu pilgrims who go to the Magh Mela. Stephen Reicher talks to Jim al-Khalili about the positive and the negative sides to a crowd and the role of a leader of a crowd. He explains how he gave up a place to read medicine, to the annoyance of his parents, to study psychology. Now, he says, his mother would be proud of him as he's publishing research on the health benefits of attending mass gatherings.

Available now

28 minutes

Broadcast

Crowd psychology: six reasons why mobs don't always rule

Crowd psychology: six reasons why mobs don't always rule

Stephen Reicher reveals that crowd psychology is more nuanced than people think.

Is your mind a machine?

Is your mind a machine?

Daniel Dennett thinks so. Here is what we learned from his Life Scientific.

Podcast