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Leadership and social information use in human crowds

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Colin Tosh


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One of the big challenges for group-living animals is to find out who in a group has pertinent information (regarding food or predators) at any moment in time, because informed individuals may not be obviously recognizable to other group members. We found that individuals in human groups were capable of identifying those with information, and this identification increased group performance: the speed and accuracy of groups in reaching a target. Using video analysis we found how informed individuals might have been identified by other group members by means of inadvertent social cues (such as starting order, time spent following and group position). Furthermore, we were able to show that at least one of these cues, the group position of informed individuals, was indeed correlated with group performance. Our final experiment confirmed that leadership was even more efficient when the group members were given the identity of the leader. We discuss the effect of information status regarding the presence and identity of leaders on collective animal behaviour.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Faria JJ, Dyer JRG, Tosh CR, Krause J

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Animal Behaviour

Year: 2010

Volume: 79

Issue: 4

Pages: 895-901

Print publication date: 23/02/2010

ISSN (print): 0003-3472

ISSN (electronic): 1095-8282

Publisher: Elsevier


DOI: 10.1016/j.anbehav.2009.12.039


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