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.

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."