By Susan Walker | March 11, 2014
Author, crowd psychology expert and systems scientist to speak at 4th Annual Social Mood Conference
Thomas Brudermann: A defining moment took place in the peaceful, friendly city of Klagenfurt, Austria, where I was doing my Ph.D. In 2008, Klagenfurt was one of the host cities of the European Championship in football, one of the largest sports events in Europe. The preceding championship in neighboring Germany in June 2006 had been a great success. It was basically a big party with huge crowds of people from all over Europe celebrating together on the streets. Local politicians in Austria were very euphoric when they learned that they would be among the hosts for this big event because they expected more of the same in 2008. But by the time June 2008 arrived, things were very different. I remember walking through the middle of Klagenfurt on the evening before the championships, and I could not believe my eyes. The usually vivid city center had become a ghost town. Nobody was there other than police! People had deserted the city, and those who were still there stayed inside for fear of riots and unrest. I searched for an explanation of why the environment in 2008 was so different from that of 2006, and socionomics offered an answer.
SF: Would you describe some of your latest research?
Thomas Brudermann: My research focuses on how people make decisions. In particular, I am interested in how individual behaviors and interactions shape collective outcomes. These are questions whose answers can help shed light on some key socionomic insights. Socionomics offers alternative and inspiring ideas for research on collective dynamics, and it ties very well into my research.
Thomas Brudermann: I began by studying computer science at the University of Klagenfurt. But after I attended numerous lectures on economic psychology, I realized that dealing with human decisions actually is much more interesting than dealing with machines. I soon joined the economic psychology department as a research assistant, and I started a Ph.D. on crowd psychology after completing my computer science studies. This hybrid education later afforded me a number of interesting opportunities. I have had the chance to work with people from many different fields, including psychologists, artificial intelligence researchers, marketing and management scholars, environmental economists, ecologists, complex systems scientists and sustainability researchers.
Thomas Brudermann: We know quite a lot about how individuals make decisions. And we can easily observe macro-level phenomena like booms in financial markets and fads in society. In my talk, I’d like to discuss the missing link between the two: the collective dynamics that tie the micro-level decisions of individuals to macro-level social outcomes.
SF: Does social mood play a role in your explanation?
SF: Why are you looking forward to talking about your research at the Social Mood Conference?
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