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John drury - psychology in mass emergencies

John drury - psychology in mass emergencies



Dr Drury conducts research into behaviour and response in mass emergencies

Dr Drury conducts research into behaviour and response in mass emergencies



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    John drury - psychology in mass emergencies John drury - psychology in mass emergencies Presentation Transcript

    • How do people behave in mass emergencies? Dr John Drury University of Sussex School of Psychology
    • A popular image of behaviour in emergencies: ‘Mass panic’?
    • As a repertoire, ‘mass panic’ includes the following elements: • Flight • Fear • Lack of coordination • Emotional overreaction to threat • ‘Contagion’ in crowds • Rash, hasty behaviour • False beliefs • Selfishness (grandmothers trampled etc.) • Irrationality (unreasonable behaviour) especially in crowds
    • Overview 1. Early evidence for ‘mass panic’ 2. Problems with ‘mass panic’ 3. Collective resilience in crowds 4. Implications for managing mass emergencies
    • 1 Early evidence for ‘mass panic’ • Anecdotes of apparent mass irrationality e.g., ‘War of the Worlds’ radio broadcast in 1938 was said to have led to panic across the USA • Military observations were the first scientific studies: – Examples from military history, going back to 19th century, of troops ‘panicking’ – e.g., USA 92nd infantry division in Italy, 1944-45; ‘disintegration of a whole battalion’
    • Civilian studies (of fires) – the received wisdom: ‘Most deaths in night-club fires are due to ‘crowd panic’, not the fire itself’ A textbook case: • Cocoanut Grove nightclub fire, 1942 (492 died)
    • Cocoanut Grove nightclub fire, 1942 (Chertkoff & Kushigian, 1999) What really happened: • Few knew the way out, not even many of the staff. • The emergency exit door was locked so that many died from fumes and then a ball of fire. • The head bartender was one of those helping lead remaining survivors out.
    • Cocoanut Grove nightclub fire, 1942 • In the main dining room, hundreds tried to get out through the main revolving doors. • But the revolving door jammed. Those trapped inside burned to death. ‘Those outside could do nothing to save them.’ (p. 41)
    • Cocoanut Grove nightclub fire, 1942 In the investigation • The major causes of the loss of life were said to be: – the locked doors – the unfamiliarity and inaccessibility of normal exits – the jamming of the revolving door. • There weren’t any exit signs! • Most people couldn’t do much to help each other (since most didn’t even know the exits).
    • Cocoanut Grove nightclub fire, 1942 Conclusions: Out-and-out selfish behaviour at others’ expense was in the minority. • There is no implication that crowd irrationality or over-reaction caused the deaths. • The management were subsequently prosecuted for manslaughter and neglect of building laws.
    • 2. Problems with ‘mass panic’ Quarantelli (1960) • Studies of disaster behaviour • Questioned assumption of irrationality – how do we know the reason? • ‘Flight’ is a more scientific account of the behaviour. Fleeing, fear, screaming or other responses to perceived danger may therefore be reasonable given the limited information - and limited choices - available to people in the midst of an emergency
    • • If we judge a crowd behaviour as ‘irrational’ because of its self-defeating outcome, this risks circularity. • Intentional (meaningful) actions may have unintended outcomes - especially in crowds! • Sime (1990): ‘Mass panic’ is not a useful scientific concept for referring to dysfunctional crowd reactions to emergencies
    • Problems with ‘mass panic’ Case studies note a lack of ‘mass panic’: • Atomic bombing of Japan during World War II (Janis, 1951) • Kings Cross Underground fire of 1987 (Donald & Canter, 1990) • 9/11 World Trade Center disaster (Blake, Galea, Westeng, & Dixon, 2004)
    • Empirically, theories of ‘panic’ typically suggest that the following are generic in emergencies: • Loss of behavioural control • Hence selfishness • Disorderly responses
    • • BUT cooperation is relatively common within and across crowds in emergencies Hillsborough (Drury et al., 2009a)
    • • People often prefer to stay behind with others rather than push them aside and flee Fire at the Summerland leisure complex, 1973 (Sime, 1983)
    • • Normal rules for social conduct are often maintained even at critical moments The Beverly Hills Supper Club fire, 1977 (Johnson, 1988)
    • Reverse the perspective on the crowd: • It is one or two individuals who might over- react, not the crowd • Others in the crowd act to calm them down. Can crowds be sources of resilience in emergencies?
    • 3 Collective resilience in crowds The concept is recognized in some official guidance: ‘Communities of Circumstance’ • These communities are created when groups of people are affected by the same incident, such as a train crash. These groups of individuals are unlikely to have the same interests or come from the same geographical area but may form a community in the aftermath of an event. Although this sense of community may be temporary, some communities of circumstance grow and are sustained in the long-term following an emergency. (Cabinet Office, 2011, Strategic National Framework on Community Resilience)
    • Explaining resilience in crowds. • What is it? • Under what conditions do crowds in emergencies behave in ways that contribute to their collective survival, recovery and wellbeing?
    • 9-11: Evacuation of the World Trade Center • 2973 people died • The most well-researched disaster in history
    • 9-11 • Those in Tower 1 (North Tower) had 1hr 42 mins to escape before it collapsed • Everyone below the point at which the plane struck got out in time • The evacuation of those below point of impact was a success – – even without rescuers’ intervention – fire officers ‘got in the way’ on some occasions!) • People ‘naturally’ coordinated their exit on crowded stairwells.
    • 7th July 2005 London bombings (Drury, Cocking, & Reicher, 2009b) 56 people died 700+ injuries. Emergency services didn’t reach all the survivors immediately – the crowd was left in the dark for up to 20 minutes or more
    • The study: data sources • Accounts from over 146 witnesses • 90 of whom were survivors • 17 people interviewed/written responses
    • ‘Helping’ (versus personal ‘selfishness’) (Helping = giving reassurance, sharing water, pulling people from the wreckage, supporting people up as they evacuated, tying tourniquets) Table: Numbers of people reporting help Contemporaneous newspaper accounts Archive personal accounts Primary data: Interviews and e-mails ‘I helped’ 57 42 13 ‘I was helped’ 17 29 10 ‘I saw help’ 140 50 17+ ‘Selfish’ behaviours 3 11 4 Total 141 127 17
    • ‘I remember walking towards the stairs and at the top of the stairs there was a guy coming from the other direction. I remember him kind of gesturing; kind of politely that I should go in front- ‘you first’ that. And I was struck I thought, God even in a situation like this someone has kind of got manners, really.’ (LB 11)
    • Why did people help each other? Archive personal accounts Interviews and e-mails Possibility of death 68 12 Not going to die 2 1 With affiliates 8 2 With strangers 57 15 • They were afraid of being killed – but they still helped! • They were with strangers, but they still helped!
    • • The Social Identity hypothesis: – The emergency itself can bring people together, by creating a sense of ‘shared fate’ – People feel more ‘united’ (share a social identity) to the extent that they feel affected as a crowd
    • Accounting for help Archive personal accounts Interviews and e-mails Shared fate 11 5 Unity 20 11 Disunity 0 1 Numbers are low but the pattern is as expected: there was more unity and ‘common fate’ than disunity, according to survivors
    • These are some of the words that interviewees used to talk about their relationship with each other during the events: unity was a key theme. • ‘unity’, • ‘together’ • ‘similarity’ • ‘affinity’ • ‘part of a group’ • ‘everybody, didn’t matter what colour or nationality’ • ‘you thought these people knew each other’ • ‘warmness’ • ‘vague solidity’ • ‘empathy’
    • Int: “Can you say how much unity there was on a scale of one to ten?” LB 1: “I’d say it was very high I’d say it was seven or eight out of ten.” Int: “Ok and comparing to before the blast happened what do you think the unity was like before?” LB 1: “I’d say very low- three out of ten, I mean you don’t really think about unity in a normal train journey, it just doesn’t happen you just want to get from A to B, get a seat maybe” (LB 1) • Almost all who referred to ‘unity’ also referred to ‘help’
    • London bombs study: Conclusions • Overwhelming evidence of spontaneous mutual aid among strangers. • Some evidence that shared fate creates shared identity, which enhances mutual helping • We tested this further with a comparative study (Drury et al., 2009a) of 11 emergencies found a relation between: – Reports of common fate and shared social identity – Shared social identity and reports of help and courtesy/norms
    • 4. Implications for managing mass emergencies • First, what do the professional groups who manage and respond to emergencies believe about crowd behaviour in such events? • We surveyed some of them to find out!
    • The survey
    • Do the professional groups believe that crowds just ‘panic’? UK and Swedish police officers, civilian safety professionals: • Neither agreed nor disagreed that ‘when there is an emergency, mass panic is inevitable’ • Did not agree that in mass emergencies ‘crowd members act selfishly’ BUT agreed with the statements: • ‘ … people in crowds exaggerate the threat’ • ‘ … people in crowds are driven by simple instincts’ • ‘ … false rumours spread easily through a crowd’ • ‘ …the emergency services are not subject to the same tendency to panic as the crowd’
    • Football stewards • More ready than other professionals to endorse ‘mass panic’ Matched sample of general public • Agreed with every feature of the ‘mass panic’ myth Therefore, the disaster myth of ‘mass panic’ is widely held, by professionals – though the public tend to believe it more!
    • • Why does it matter what the professionals believe about crowd behaviour in emergencies? • Because these different beliefs are the basis of different forms of emergency management • And some forms of emergency management are better than others!
    • Belief about mass emergency behaviour Management practice • In the survey, we carried out some correlations and regressions • We found that the more people believed in ‘mass panic’, the more they recommended exclusive expert control and restricting information from the public…
    • BUT: •The experts can’t always be around •The public need to take some initiative in emergencies •Exclusive expert control inhibits public initiative! •AND •Information and communication empowers the public •Withholding information ‘in case there is panic’ produces anxiety!
    • • Based on the research, we made three recommendations to professionals and policymakers…
    • 1 Trust and co-operation RELATIONSHIPS MATTER: Build the relationship with the public so that your advice is trusted and people cooperate ‘Information’ becomes ‘communication’ (shared meaning) when there is TRUST between groups of people
    • 2 Enhancing social identification Shared social identity is the basis of collective resilience. How do we build it? The language used can facilitate (or undermine) shared social identity Between the crowd and the professionals •Language of unity: ‘we’ (the authorities, public, employees) are ‘all in the same boat’ •There is a need to be seen to include the public…
    • 3 Accommodating the public urge to help • Survivors and witnesses try to help (whether or not they have expertise!) • It’s inevitable • It builds unity and trust • It makes them feel better • It might actually be necessary! • In the London bombings, the PUBLIC WERE THE ‘FIRST RESPONDERS’!
    • Take-home message: In an emergency, understand the crowd as a potential resource, not a problem
    • Summary • Evidence shows that ‘mass panic’ is not a useful concept: irrationality is an assumption • Under some conditions, crowds are sources of resilience (collective survival, recovery) • We even find resilient behaviour in crowds where there are no pre-existing social bonds (e.g., London bombs) • Some professionals believe that crowds simply panic, but this is not a useful basis for emergency management • Emergency management should aim to facilitate collective resilience in the crowd.
    • References and links • Blake, S. J., Galea, E. R., Westeng, H., & Dixon, A. J. P. (2004). An analysis of human behaviour during the World Trade Center disaster of 11 Septem Proceedings of Third International Symposium on Human Behaviour in Fire, Belfast, September. • Drury, J., Cocking, C., & Reicher, S. (2009). Everyone for themselves? A comparative study of crowd solidarity among emergency . British Journal of Social Psychology, 48, 487-506. • Drury, J., Cocking, C., & Reicher, S. (2009). The nature of collective resilience: Survivor reactions to the 2005 London bombings . International Journal of Mass Emergencies and Disasters, 27, 66-95. • Drury, J. & Novelli, D. (2011). Crowd representations in event management: Effects on wellbeing and collective res 16th General Meeting of the European Association of Social Psychology, Stockholm, Sweden, July.