Leader behaviour; does leadership show through behaviour?

Bachelor / Master thesis project

Leader behaviour; does leadership show through behaviour?

Crowds often consist of a collection of smaller groups, and each of these groups may have its own formal or informal leader, who may play an important role in the group’s behaviour - for good or for bad. Crowd control revolves around influencing crowd behaviour so as to maintain order and ensuring that people will continue to have a good time. When crowd behaviour are about to take a turn for the worse, intervening in undesired behaviour of crowd members in an effective and timely manner is of the essence. Arguably, doing so by targeting a group’s formal or informal leaders could prove to be highly effective. The problem, however, is that it is not usually known exactly who has a leading role in a group. The current project therefore aims to find out whether and how leaders in small groups distinguish themselves from followers through their behaviour.

The current thesis project aims to replicate and, more importantly, extend earlier work regarding the differences between leaders and followers in terms of behaviour, by conducting a carefully designed field experiment (outdoors) in which the behaviour of groups is registered with the GPS tracking devices. GPS data will then be converted to a number of variables such as speed, distance travelled, and intra-group distance. Students are encouraged to construct additional variables that may be of relevance to the current context. Analyses and variable construction may include working with R and R-Studio; familiarity with this software or the willingness to learn working with it are recommended.

The study is part of an ongoing research project by the dept. Psychology of Conflict, Risk, and Safety; although it is required to (to some extent) base the thesis research on earlier work, students will have ample opportunity to develop ideas of their own.

This project is open to more than one student; they can start as soon as they wish.


Pieterman, Frank van de (2015) The role of perspective taking on prosocial behavior. Bachelor thesis University of Twente, http://essay.utwente.nl/68482/1/Pieterman%2C%20F.G.%20van%20de%20-%20s1108530%20%28verslag%29.pdf

Pinker, S. (2011). The Better Angels of Our Nature, Viking Books.



Heb je interesse in deze opdracht? Neem dan contact op met de thema coördinator Sven Zebel (s.zebel@utwente.nl)


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