Knowing how people interact with urban environments is fundamental for a variety of fields, ranging from transportation to social science. Despite the fact that human mobility patterns have been a major topic of study in recent years, a challenge to understand large-scale human behavior when a certain event occurs remains due to a lack of either relevant data or suitable approaches. Psychological crowd refers to a group of people who are usually located at different places and show different behaviors, but who are very sensitively driven to take the same act (gather together) by a certain event, which has been theoretically studied by social psychologists since the 19th century. This study aims to propose a computational approach using a machine learning method to model psychological crowds, contributing to the better understanding of human activity patterns under events. Psychological features and mental unity of the crowd are computed to detect the involved individuals. A national event happening across the USA in April, 2015 is analyzed using geotagged tweets as a case study to test our approach. The result shows that 81% of individuals in the crowd can be successfully detected. Through investigating the geospatial pattern of the involved users, not only can the event related users be identified but also those unobserved users before the event can be uncovered. The proposed approach can effectively represent the psychological feature and measure the mental unity of the psychological crowd, which sheds light on the study of large-scale psychological crowd and provides an innovative way to understanding human behavior under events.
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