BATTLING crowds of Christmas ­shoppers is many people's idea of a nightmare, but some of us enjoy the experience, according to new research.

Psychologists from St Andrews University have found some people actively sought out crowded areas, including the rush-hour commuter, and even gained pleasure from being part of a large group.

The study, which also involved researchers from Sussex University, looked at behaviour at an outdoor concert and a protest march against NHS changes, and found individuals had a social identification with the crowd, which led them to more dense locations.

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Dr John Drury of Sussex University, who supervised the research, said the findings had important implications for psychology. He said: "There is an idea in psychology that we have a relatively fixed need for personal space.

"This would mean other people are inevitably a threat to our comfort. But this wrongly assumes that we each have just one identity - a personal identity. Our findings are part of a body of work that shows we have multiple identities based on group memberships."