Crowd is the temporary gathering of a number of people in one place for a single goal. The members of crowd rarely know each other. Most forms of crowd behavior are unstructured in which members do not follow traditions, rules and regulations. Crowd behavior sometimes becomes rude, impulsive and violent. The people do not gather collectively in a place through a pre-planned pattern because crowed behavior appears spontaneously. If we have a glance over our surroundings, we may find lot of crowd behavior. People use to surround the spots where an unusual happens. For example, a nasty road accident forms a crowd, the act of shopping of a national hero forms a crowd and the big screen with a football match forms a crowd in a roadside etc.

Theories about crowd behavior


There are two types of theories about crowd behavior i-e convergence theory and emergent norm theory.


Convergence Theory


In the convergence theory, it is mentioned that the crowd behavior arises from the collection of people for uniform goals. The people of crowd share the same likes, needs, impulses and purposes etc. The people attending a crowd share number of common characteristics which may differ from the other crowd. For example the crowd of rock festivals is different from the crowd which is protesting against the government. These two forms of crowd may differ from each other in the shape of aggression, anger and emotions etc.

    Emergent Norm Theory


    According to the emergent theory, crowd takes action on the basis of some norms of the crowd. The members of the crowd participate in the activities like burning, looting, shouting and abusing etc. After the failure of removal of grievances, a norm emerges which justifies the limitations of the crowd behavior. It is because of a norm that a calm and cool crowd comes into action and also enters into the terrifying moods.


    Limitations of crowd behavior


    There are at least four considerations with which the crowd behavior can be limited.
    1. Emotional needs of the members
    2. The mores of the members
    3. The leadership of crowd
    4. The external control over the crowd


1.    Emotional needs of members


The emotional needs, sentiments and prejudices of the members are expressed by the crowd behavior. A person may do those things in a crowd which can not be done by him/her lonely. Crowd allows its members to express impulses, hostilities, and aggressions etc. For example a person restrains the impulses if he/she likes to break the things. Contrary to this, a person is not bound to restrain the impulses while acting in a crowd. Hence, it is proved that crowd behavior fulfills the emotional needs of the members.


2.    Mores of members


The members are bound to act within the limits of their mores. People do not violate the mores in a crowd. A crowd can kill a person but can not eat the flesh of the person because it is against the mores of the members.


3.    Crowd Leadership


An ordinary person can become the leader of a crowd by simply suggesting the commands. A skillful leader can convert a huge and aggressive crowd into a calm and peaceful crowd. Similarly a leader can also convert a calm crowd into an aggressive one. Leaders have a great influence over the crowd and have the tendency to change the direction of crowd behavior. The members of the crowd want to be directed who are frustrated by confusion and uncertainty. The crowd is likely to follow the person who starts giving clear orders. So, the crowd behavior is limited by the crowd leadership.


4.    External controls


Most of the times it has been seen that the crowd is affected by cold weather and hard thundershower. The crowd behavior can be influenced by the external matters like weather, storm, and snowfalls etc. Along with weather, the movement of police and other law enforcement agencies come under the category of external controls. Crowd behavior can be changed by arresting, threatening and by firing etc.


Some forms of crowd


There are several forms of the crowd but audience and riots are few important ones of those.


The Audience


An audience is a form of crowd in which people gather in a place for the purpose of entertainment or a specific message from the communicator. People form a crowd to watch a movie in the cinema is an audience. Radio and television programs draw a great audience as well. The audience is affected directly by the performer.


The riot


A riot is an aggressive and destructive form of crowd. Riot can be based on the nationality, religion, and caste system etc. The riots between Hindus and Muslims of India in 1947 were based on the nationality.  The participants of riot become both aggressive as well as destructive as they take part into actions like burning, breaking, killing and plundering etc.


Mass behavior


A mass is different than a crowd. The spectators watching a cricket match in a ground are a crowd; while those who are watching the match at home on television or internet are a mass. Mass is a large number of people who act individually. Mass differs from the crowd on the ground that people act as a group in the crowd. When many people acting individually and also moving in a same direction it is called as a mass behavior.




Crowd is a temporary gathering of people at one place to achieve a single goal. The members of crowd do not follow traditions, rules and regulations. There are two theories about crowd behavior i.e. convergence theory and emergent norm theory. Crowd behavior has several limitations like emotional needs of the members, the mores of the members, the leadership of the crowd and the external controls over the crowd. Audience and riot are the two important forms of the crowd in which audience is collection of people in a calm mood. On the other hand, the riot is an aggressive and destructive type of crowd.

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