Leadership, consensus decision making and collective behaviour in human crowds

JRG Dyer, A Johansson, D Helbing, ID Couzin, J Krause

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

217 Citations (Scopus)


This paper reviews the literature on leadership in vertebrate groups, including recent work on human groups, before presenting the results of three new experiments looking at leadership and decision making in small and large human groups. In experiment 1, we find that both group size and the presence of uninformed individuals can affect the speed with which small human groups (eight people) decide between two opposing directional preferences and the likelihood of the group splitting. In experiment 2, we show that the spatial positioning of informed individuals within small human groups (10 people) can affect the speed and accuracy of group motion. We find that having a mixture of leaders positioned in the centre and on the edge of a group increases the speed and accuracy with which the group reaches their target. In experiment 3, we use large human crowds (100 and 200 people) to demonstrate that the trends observed from earlier work using small human groups can be applied to larger crowds. We find that only a small minority of informed individuals is needed to guide a large uninformed group. These studies build upon important theoretical and empirical work on leadership and decision making in animal groups.
Translated title of the contributionLeadership, consensus decision making and collective behaviour in human crowds
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)781 - 789
Number of pages9
JournalPhilosophical Transactions B: Biological Sciences
Issue number1518
Publication statusPublished - 2009


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