Professor of Behavioural Ecology in the Faculty of Biological Sciences
In February 2008, Professor Krause's research paper Consensus decision making in human crowds was published in Animal Behaviour Journal. The research showed that humans exhibit animal-like behaviour in certain situations by flocking like sheep and birds and subconsciously following a minority of individuals.
The results show that it takes a minority of just five per cent to influence a crowd's direction - and that the other 95 per cent follow without realising it. Professor Krause, with PhD student John Dyer, believe the findings could have major implications for directing the flow of large crowds, in particular in disaster scenarios, where verbal communication may be difficult.
After being informed that his research paper was appearing, Prof Krause was contacted by Campus PR, an agency employed by the Faculty of Biological Sciences to support their media dissemination. Prof Krause was interviewed by Campus PR about this work, and a press release - Sheep in human clothing - scientists reveal our flock mentality - was produced.
The release was approved by the University's media relations team and Professor Krause before being released to the media to coincide with the publication Animal Behaviour Journal for maximum impact. The article caught the media and the public's imagination, and the University's media relations team received numerous calls from journalists interested in covering the story.
Professor Krause deliberately made time to speak to the media, conducting radio interviews, TV interviews and talking to the print media. Articles appeared in titles including the Daily Telegraph, The Times, The Sun, The Daily Express and the Yorkshire Post. Prof Krause was interviewed live on his research on Channel 4's lunchtime news bulletin and also appeared on BBC Radio Leeds and BBC Radio Scotland. The Discovery Channel have also come to the University to record a re-enactment of Prof Krause's experiments on campus for a film.
Read the press release: http://www.leeds.ac.uk/media/press_releases/current/flock.htm