COVID‐19 in context: why do people die in emergencies? It’s probably not because of collective psychology

Drury, John, Reicher, Stephen and Stott, Clifford (2020) COVID‐19 in context: why do people die in emergencies? It’s probably not because of collective psychology. British Journal of Social Psychology. pp. 1-14. ISSN 0144-6665

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Abstract

Notions of psychological frailty have been evident in comments by journalists, politicians and others on public responses to the Covid-19 pandemic. In particular, there is the argument that collective selfishness, thoughtless behaviour, and over-reaction would make the effects of Covid-19 much worse. The same kinds of claims have been made previously in relation to other kinds of emergencies, such as fires, earthquakes and sinking ships. We argue that in these cases as well as in the case of the Covid-19 pandemic, other factors are better explanations for fatalities -- namely under-reaction to threat, systemic factors, and mismanagement. Psychologizing disasters serves to distract from the real causes and thus from who might be held responsible. Far from being the problem, collective psychology in emergencies – including the solidarity and cooperation so commonly witnessed among survivors – is the solution, one that should be harnessed more effectively in policy and practice.

Item Type: Article
Schools and Departments: School of Psychology > Psychology
SWORD Depositor: Mx Elements Account
Depositing User: Mx Elements Account
Date Deposited: 29 Jun 2020 17:14
Last Modified: 30 Jun 2020 07:01
URI: http://sro.sussex.ac.uk/id/eprint/92146

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