Adding a psychological dimension to mass gatherings medicine

Nick Hopkins, Stephen Reicher

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Citations (Scopus)


Objectives. Mass gatherings pose distinctive challenges for medicine. One neglected aspect of this is that the behaviour of people participating in such events is different from the behaviour they exhibit in their everyday lives. This paper seeks to describe a Social Psychological perspective on the processes shaping people's behaviour at mass gatherings and to explore how these are relevant for an understanding of the processes impacting on infection transmission.
Conclusions. It is inadequate to conceptualise mass gatherings as simply an aggregate of a large number of individuals. Rather, those present may conceptualise themselves in terms of a collective with a shared group identity. Thinking of oneself and others as members of a collective, changes one's behaviour. First, one behaves in terms of one's understanding of the norms associated with the group. Second, the relationships between group members become more trusting and supportive. Understanding these two behavioural changes is key to understanding how and why mass gathering participants may behave in ways that make them more or less vulnerable to infection transmission. Implications for health education interventions are discussed.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)112-116
JournalInternational Journal of Infectious Diseases
Early online date2 Jan 2016
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2016


  • Mass gatherings
  • Infection transmission
  • Social identity
  • Norms


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