The British Psychological Society (BPS) Research Digest pointed out an interesting study today that has to do with crowd management. In “Psychological Disaster Myths in the Perception and Management of Mass Emergencies,” the researchers wanted to know whether public safety officials believed in disaster myths, such as crowds devolving into mass panic, that people often engage in criminal behavior during emergencies, and that survivors are shocked into a catatonic state of helplessness.
“Respondents endorsed the first two myths,” the researchers wrote in the study’s abstract. “However, they rejected the myth of helplessness and endorsed the view that emergency crowds display resilience. Despite these contradictions in stated beliefs, there was also evidence of ideological coherence: each model of mass emergency behavior (maladaptive vs. resilient) was linked to a model of crowd management (coercive and paternalistic vs. mass-democratic).”
Dr. John Drury, a social psychology professor at the University of Sussex in England, and his colleagues interviewed 115 police officers, 46 civilian emergency workers, and 120 football (soccer) match stewards. They also interviewed 78 students and 89 people in the general public for comparison purposes.
“Overall, there were positives to emerge from this study—the professional groups endorsed fewer disaster myths than the students and general public, and they recognized many aspects of psychological resilience exhibited by crowds in emergencies,” Christian Jarrett wrote for BPS Research Digest. “On the other hand, it’s worrying that the professional groups endorse many aspects of disaster myths.”
Jarrett writes that the researchers know that the study’s quality is undermined because some of the beliefs were gauged by a single question.
“Also, it’s not clear how much the professionals’ survey answers would match their decisions on the ground in a real emergency,” Jarrett wrote.
If you’re interested in learning how you would react in a real emergency, consider attending the International Crowd Management Conference at the Plaza Marriott in San Antonio, Texas, Nov. 10-13. There you will learn all aspects of crowd management, guest services, and the enhancement of the guest experience, as applied to creating a safe and secure venue.
(Image via Flickr: Ragesh Vasudevan/Creative Commons)
You’re a leader, a manager, a person in charge. You delegate, coach, and inspire. And sometimes you want to put your feet up on your desk. Could this pose, though, really make you feel more powerful at work?
University of Buffalo psychologist Lora E. Park, Ph.D., conducted four studies with more than 600 men and women born in the U.S. or East Asia (e.g., China, Japan, South Korea) to see if the assumed link between expansive body postures and power is true. What she discovered was that it actually depends on the type of posture and the person’s cultural background.
“The expansive postures, which were based on previous research, consisted of an expansive-hands-spread-on-desk pose (i.e., standing up and leaning over on a desk with hands spread apart), an expansive-upright-sitting pose (i.e., resting one’s ankle on the opposite leg’s knee with one arm on the armrest and the other hand on the desk), and an expansive-feet-on-desk pose (i.e., leaning back in one’s chair with feet on top of the desk, hands placed behind one’s head, fingers interlocked and elbows spread out wide),” Park said. “In four studies, the effect of each posture on participants was evaluated in comparison to a constricted body posture (e.g., sitting with hands under thighs, standing with arms wrapped around one’s body).”
Park found that the feet-on-desk pose led to greater feelings of power, power-related concepts, and greater risk-taking for Americans, but not East Asians. After holding the pose for three minutes, the American participants more often chose to deal with a problem presented to them. This didn’t have the safe effect for the East Asian participants.
Just for the record, the expansive-hands-spread-on-desk and expansive-upright-sitting poses led to greater feelings of power for both the Americans and the East Asians.
“Overall, these findings suggest that expansive postures have both universal and culturally specific effects on people’s thoughts, feelings, and behavior,” Park said. “Some postures, such as the expansive-hands-spread-on-desk and expansive-upright-sitting poses, make people across cultures feel more powerful. In contrast, expansive postures that violate cultural norms, such as putting one’s feet on the desk, do not make all individuals feel powerful.”
“Stand Tall, but Don’t Put Your Feet Up: Universal and Culturally-Specific Effects of Expansive Postures on Power” is reported in the November 2013 issue of the Journal of Experimental Social Psychology (Vol. 49, Issue 5). Park’s co-authors are Lindsey Streamer, University of Buffalo doctoral student in social psychology; Li Huang, Ph.D., assistant professor of organizational behavior, INSEAD; and Adam Galinsky, Vikram S. Pandit Professor of Business, Columbia Business School.
(Image via Flickr: starmanseries/Creative Commons)
Yesterday, I wrote about how scents can subconsciously affect your behavior. Sounds can do the same thing, at least that’s what one interesting study published in the Journal of Consumer Research says.
In “The Crossmodal Effect of Attention on Preferences: Facilitation versus Impairment,” researchers from the Chinese University of Hong Kong and the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology showed that customers are more likely to purchase a product from a different location when pleasant sounds come from that direction.
“Suppose that you are standing in a supermarket aisle, choosing between two packets of cookies, one placed nearer your right side and the other nearer your left. While you are deciding, you hear an in-store announcement from your left, about store closing hours,” write authors Hao Shen (Chinese University of Hong Kong) and Jaideep Sengupta (Hong Kong University of Science and Technology). “Will this announcement, which is quite irrelevant to the relative merits of the two packets of cookies, influence your decision?”
Using the above example, the researchers say that most customers choose the cookies on the left, because they can visually process a product easier when it’s presented in the same spatial direction as the auditory signal. In other words, if it can be easily processed it will be easily purchased.
In another experiment, the researches asked participants to form an impression of pictures about two hotel rooms on a computer screen—one on the left side and one on the right. A speaker playing a news bulletin was placed on either side. Asked which picture they preferred, the participants more often than not chose the one that aligned with the side the speaker was on.
Finally, in follow-up experiment, participants more often than not chose soft drinks from a vending machine that broadcast a news bulletin.
This has me thinking. When I attend a baseball game and leave my seat to go to the concession stand, I end up going to one that is broadcasting the game so I can keep up with it while waiting in line. I wonder if those stands get more traffic because of the sounds than those that don’t broadcast the game. Now, maybe every stadium has a game broadcast at each concession stand and it doesn’t matter. I think it would be a good experiment, though, to test out the sound theory. Have some stands with a broadcast and some without and see which ones make the most money. You could do the same with merchandise booths. Have some play a pleasant tune and see if those get more traffic and sales than those that don’t feature a sound.
The key to these findings, though, is the sound has to be pleasant. If it’s unpleasant, the researchers say that people first turn their attention to the sound and then turn away in order to avoid it. So, maybe play an ice-cream truck tune. Or whatever sound the fox makes.
(Image via Flickr: Kent Kanouse/Creative Commons)
Some of you may know I was employed at a venue before coming to work at IAVM Headquarters. I worked at the Dallas Museum of Art as the Senior Marketing Manager for almost 12 years.
The museum and its small staff hosted up to a million visitors in a year, and presented exhibitions like King Tut, Van Gogh and Matisse. Then mix in large outdoor concerts drawing up to 30,000 concert-goers; weekly indoor jazz and monthly Late Nights, which drew from 3,000 up to 15,000 guests to the Museum. While these numbers pale in comparison to a stadium during a single game, for a museum with expertise in watching people watch art – these events presented many “all hands on deck” situations with most of us becoming guest services, venue safety and operations team members.
One of my favorite pieces of advice came from the then Museum’s Director, Bonnie Pitman, during the first Late Night when the museum stayed open for 100 consecutive hours to celebrate its centennial. As all of us pitched in, working to welcome the crowd cueing up in lines stretching the entire length of the museum, Bonnie shared her now famous line: “Be a duck.”
“Be a duck” describes the perfect guest service manager. Like a duck that seemingly floats effortlessly across a lake, while under the water the duck paddles furiously propelling itself forward – above, there is little apparent to divulge the efforts occurring beneath the surface. Continue Reading →
Senses have contributed to humanity’s survival over thousands of years. Our eyes and ears, for example, help us navigate within a chaotic world, guiding us around dangerous spots or noticing friendly faces in a crowd. Smelling is another sense that you probably don’t pay much attention to, at least until something overtly stinks or pleases. Scents can be subtle, and marketing people constantly use them to steer you toward a goal.
Consider something the St. Louis Rams did at the Edward Jones Dome. They pumped the smell of cotton candy through the dome’s HVAC system.
“As expected, cotton candy sales have gone up year over year so far,” reported Lucas Dillow for the National Sports Forum. “But the interesting part is they have seen healthy growth in overall concession sales across the board. The cotton candy scent triggers a response to buy food and drinks in general, on top of just cotton candy.”
It shouldn’t surprise you that the Rams are very happy with the results.
Perhaps, though, a cotton candy scent may be too sweet.
In a 2012 study, researchers from Washington State University and Switzerland discovered that a simple scent is more effective in influencing sales. The researchers exposed shoppers to simple and complex scents (orange scent and orange-basil blended with green tea, respectively). Sales increased when the simple one was in the air. The reason is because it’s more easily processed, freeing the customer’s mind to focus on shopping, the researchers say. In a separate study, the researchers showed that students completed word problems more quickly when simple scents were in the air than when complicated or no scents were in the air.
“Most people are processing it at an unconscious level, but it is impacting them,” said Eric Spangenberg, dean of the Washington State University College of Business and one of the researchers. “The important thing from the retailers perspective and the marketers perspective is that a pleasant scent isn’t necessarily an effective scent.”
Pleasant scents, though, can be effective on one front: morality.