The mass psychology of disasters and emergency evacuations: A research report and implications for the Fire and Rescue Service

Drury, John and Cocking, Chris (2008) The mass psychology of disasters and emergency evacuations: A research report and implications for the Fire and Rescue Service. Fire Safety, Technology and Management, 10. pp. 13-19.

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Abstract

A three year research project into human behaviour during emergency evacuations was conducted at the University of Sussex from April 2004. Three different kinds of research were carried out: real-life role-play evacuations, virtual reality computer programs of simulated evacuations, and interview studies with survivors of various mass emergencies. Based on a review of the literature and these studies, it was concluded that, far from mass panic occurring, behaviour during emergencies is often ordered and meaningful, with social norms and conventions remaining, even during extreme danger. Co-operation rather than selfish behaviour appears to predominate, even amongst crowds of total strangers. It was argued that a common identity emerges amongst those affected during emergencies that explains this co-operation. Fire Service commanders should view the emergence of such a common identity as a source of potential help, and look at ways of encouraging this co-operative identity as a means to enhancing safe and efficient evacuations of large numbers of people from danger during emergencies.

Item Type: Article
Schools and Departments: School of Psychology > Psychology
Depositing User: John Drury
Date Deposited: 06 Feb 2012 15:47
Last Modified: 06 Feb 2012 15:56
URI: http://sro.sussex.ac.uk/id/eprint/14386
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