Psychological disaster myths in the perception and management of mass emergencies

Drury, John, Novelli, David and Stott, Clifford (2013) Psychological disaster myths in the perception and management of mass emergencies. Journal of Applied Social Psychology, 43 (11). pp. 2259-2270. ISSN 0021-9029

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Disaster myths are said to be widespread and consequential. However, there has been little research on whether those involved in public safety and emergency response believe them. A survey examined how far police officers, civilian safety professionals, sports event stewards and comparison samples from the public believe the myths ‘mass panic’, ‘civil disorder’, and ‘helplessness’. Respondents endorsed the first two myths. However they rejected the myth of helplessness and endorsed the view that emergency crowds display resilience. Despite these contradictions in stated beliefs, there was also evidence of ideological coherence: each model of mass emergency behavior (maladaptive versus resilient) was linked to a model of crowd management (coercive and paternalistic versus mass-democratic). The practical implications of these findings are discussed.

Item Type: Article
Schools and Departments: School of Psychology > Psychology
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion
Depositing User: John Drury
Date Deposited: 18 Nov 2013 08:28
Last Modified: 18 Nov 2013 08:28

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