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My name is Mehdi Moussaïd. I’m a research scientist at the Max Planck Institute for Human Development, in Berlin.
My research is about any kind of collective behaviors in human crowds. For example, I study the behavior of pedestrians in urban environment and try to find out practical solutions for the management of pedestrian flows in open and closed environments. A large part of my research is also dedicated to the study of very large crowds, such as big gatherings of people at mass events. I try to understand why crowd disasters happen, and how to ensure the safety of people during such events.
My work is usually a combination of empirical observations based on video recordings, controlled experiments in the lab, mathematical modeling, and computer simulations.
Beside, I’m also interested in collective behaviors of psychological crowds, such as opinion dynamics. For instance, I do experiments to understand how people adapt their personal opinions and judgments after being exposed to the opinion of others, and how new ideas propagate over social networks, giving rise to the emergence of stable (or unstable) public opinions. I also study the features of the wisdom of crowds, namely how to aggregate individuals’ opinions to reach better decisions. Finally, the last part of my research concerns the propagation of fears and panics over social networks, and how the perception of danger is amplified or attenuated in large groups of people.
My original background is engineering and computer science. However, I have been working in very interdisciplinary environments: 4 years in a lab of cognitive science (at the University of Toulouse), 2 years in a group of physics and social science (at the ETH Zürich), and I’m now at the Max Planck Institute, in a group of psychology and cognitive science.
I’m always happy to share my research with other people. This is what this blog is about. Don’t hesitate to comment on my posts, or write me an email for further information or for working collaborations.