Crowds and Identities: John Drury’s Research Group

The crowd psychology of the annual Hajj

The annual Hajj

The annual Hajj or pilgrimage to Mecca involves around two million people. Engineering, architecture and design expertise have all been applied to understanding the Hajj and ensuring the safety of those involved. This research project, as part of Hani Alnabulsi's PhD, complements these perspectives with a psychological account of crowd experience. In contrast to previous accounts in psychology, which suggested that crowds are inherently aversive, conflictual and prone to irrational panic, early findings from our interviews with pilgrims on the Hajj have uncovered evidence of joy from being part of the crowd, feelings of safety, and cooperation among strangers. 

Alnabulsi, H., & Drury, J. (2014). Social identification moderates the effect of crowd density on safety at the Hajj. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 111(25), 9091-9096. doi:10.1073/pnas.1404953111