Stampede#Human stampedes

The term refers to a stampede accident with a large number of parties in a confined space in which the spatial confinement is partly responsible for the course of the accident. He suggests the idea that a crowd gets at major events or loss events in panic and there is uncontrolled influx. Cause a stampede can be individual within a crowd hazardous external circumstances (such as a fire or collapse of a building) or behavior. The terms mass casualty, mass disaster and mass panic are often used interchangeably in the media. A stampede occurs only during a very small proportion of mass disasters. Dirk Helbing called the concept of mass panic " often misunderstood " a disaster will not happen usually, " because people fall into a state of psychological panic ". Victims are rather " the result of a physical, not a psychological effect. " Therefore one would the term "crowd disaster" or mass disaster prefer in research.

In a figurative sense, there is mass panic in the form of avalanches sale on the stock markets or mass resolution of bank deposits ( see, eg, Panic of 1907). In herd animals such as cattle or antelopes there is the phenomenon of the stampede, which in its dynamics also has features of mass panic. However, the interpretation of stampedes as adapted from an evolutionary perspective protective behavior in the presence of predators can not be transmitted to humans.

Emotional contagion

A theoretical approach explains " mass panic " by " emotional contagion " as the spreading of individual panic. A distinction panic reactions in open systems, closed systems or in bottleneck situations. The latter is the most dangerous reaction since the excitement of those affected is strongest here. In open systems, flight options are available; in closed systems such as in mines, either the number of persons or the persons densities are low, so that there are individual panic.

Critique of the concept of " mass panic "

The impression that a panic could be triggered solely by the coming together of large numbers of people in one place is empirically not backed up: Sime criticized that the term panic is used for behaviors that are rational from the subjective perspective, only an outer consideration, with additional information that were not available to the person concerned in the situation available, as irrational appears. The notion of a " group mind " (Gustave Le Bon: Psychology of the masses, 1895 or Sigmund Freud: Group Psychology and the Analysis of the Ego, 1921) is controversial.

Based on the analysis of computer simulation called the American geographer Paul Torrens, the idea of ​​the " mass hysteria " a "myth". The mass could individual trouble spots very effectively soothe. The majority should not only try to intervene, but had a "troublesome " group as possible " flow around quietly - in such behavior demonstrates the wisdom of the masses". Unfavorable developments in crowds would usually start with the fact that individuals misinterpret the body language of their side and front people and behave accordingly. Like an epidemic grab his restless behavior over only to small groups, and finally to the great mass, leading to the collapse of the "collective intelligence" leads to accidents.

However, could so Torrens, a model disaster scenarios " also predict only approximately accurate", but rather measures of prevention should be carried out so that groups of people do not lose their orientation. In particular, signs that appeal to the intuitive perception of the passers-by, are suitable.

Empirical studies

The reaction of people in hazardous situations has been studied empirically. It turned out that most people react neither selfish nor inconsiderate. Michael Schreckenberg had panic excluded as a cause of disasters after an analysis of 127 cases. Rather, physical processes are causally, indeed prevail instincts before and " the organism is only aimed to save his life ", but fleeing followed predictable rules. At about ten people come about a leader who is a role model. Another ten percent, " the " individuals, start running at the lowest dangers. The remaining 80 percent were those who were " blind" the crowd followed. In addition, people fleeing in a mass ran, which suddenly comes to a halt, almost exactly after 15 seconds in a different direction.

" Mass panic " with high numbers of victims came mainly in football stadiums in large religious events or fires in nightclubs and night clubs in the past. They develop relatively rarely and under special conditions. In addition to the danger of the toxic fumes of the dangers of asphyxia made ​​by the compression of the thorax, the pinch or the " trampling down ". Helbing et al. (2000) define the following characteristic events in a " stampede " means persons who move as a result of panic much faster than in normal situations, leading to pushing and pushing and especially at bottlenecks to uncoordinated behavior. People are pinched by the damming effect, the pressure can be up to 4450 N/m2, which can lead under certain circumstances to the collapse of masonry. Injured and lying on the ground also represent another obstacle of the fugitives, by the " herd instinct " as the applicant based on the behavior of others. Other outputs or means of escape can be so easily overlooked.


Strong crowds or disaster with many participants can trigger a " stampede ", which is accompanied by uncontrolled fear and massive refugee movements. In such a situation, there are few opportunities for intervention. The greatest impact opportunities exist in the development phase. Important are targeted, clear, frequent, regular and structured prompts and information. This can be done eg by loudspeaker announcements or processes that demonstrate composure (eg continuation of the event like a football game). Also attention -inspiring interventions (eg, a high-pitched whistling sound ) or the locations of simple tasks can achieve a lot of panic (eg: " Watch out for children! ").

It, communication ( again ) and to activate the self-competence of individuals is crucial. Those responsible should act objectively and soberly in a stampede. Your information should be clear, straightforward and truthful. With the described interventions, it could be possible to dampen the excitement of those affected. Dealing with potential disasters (simulation ) prepares those responsible to it to respond to sudden events.

A number of individual recommendations are Clarke.

List of mass disasters

See: List of mass disasters