Group Dynamics: Mass Emergency Behavior

View Segments Segment :

  • Citations
  • Add to My List
  • Embed
  • Help
  • Citations
  • Add to My List
  • Embed
  • Help
Successfully saved clip
Find all your clips in My Lists
Failed to save clip
  • Transcript
  • Transcript

    Auto-Scroll: ONOFF 
    • 00:00

      [MUSIC PLAYING][Group Dynamics, Mass Emergency Behavior]

    • 00:10

      DR. JOHN DRURY: My name is Dr. John Drury.I'm a reader in social psychologyat the University of Sussex.This is a tutorial on mass emergency behavior.The argument I shall be making isthat mass panic is not a useful wayto understand mass emergency behavior.And that we need to understand cooperative behavior, not justfatalities in emergencies.

    • 00:31

      DR. JOHN DRURY [continued]: We will be covering the following points.First, early evidence, the idea of mass panic.Second, conceptual problems with mass panic.Third, empirical problems with mass panic.Fourth, social norms and interpersonal bondsin emergencies and disasters.

    • 00:52

      DR. JOHN DRURY [continued]: And fifth, solidarity among strangers, a social identityaccount of mass emergency behavior.And then finally, a summary and conclusions.[Early Evidence, Mass Panic]I'll start with the early evidence whichtook the form of military observations of the behavior

    • 01:14

      DR. JOHN DRURY [continued]: of troops under fire.This arose to address a practical problem whichis that troops were seen to be panickingwhen they came under fire.And so the research thought to addressa practical problem of troops losing their discipline.The research then moved on to looking at civilian disasters,in particular, fires in nightclubs.

    • 01:35

      DR. JOHN DRURY [continued]: And at this time, the received wisdomwas that most deaths in nightclub fireswere not due to the fire itself, but due to crowd panic.There was one textbook case whichis always cited in the literature at this timeto reinforce this idea of crowd panic.

    • 01:56

      DR. JOHN DRURY [continued]: And that was the Cocoanut Grove nightclubfire which took place in 1942, in which nearly 500 peopledied.Now a pair of social psychologists, Chertkoffand Kushigian, in 1999 re-analyzed that disasterand came to a quite different conclusion.They pointed out that the owners of the club

    • 02:19

      DR. JOHN DRURY [continued]: nailed down some of the windows of the venueto stop people from leaving without paying for their tab.They noted that the emergency exit door was locked.And so therefore, people were dying from fumesbecause they were trapped in the building.There was a public inquiry after the disaster,

    • 02:42

      DR. JOHN DRURY [continued]: and that found no evidence that the crowdhad caused the deaths.There was no implication of crowd irrationality,and in fact, it was the managementthat were prosecuted for manslaughterand neglect of building laws.So you can see in this example and in all the early evidence,panic is, in fact, operating as a crowd blaming device.

    • 03:05

      DR. JOHN DRURY [continued]: [Conceptual Problems with Mass Panic]The critique of mass panic as a conceptcan be traced back to work by Quarantelli in the 1950s.In his detailed studies of mass emergency behavior,he raised the question, how do weknow that a behavior such as fleeing is irrational?

    • 03:29

      DR. JOHN DRURY [continued]: We don't know the reason that people are fleeing,and to judge a responses is irrational,requires a frame of reference.But the frame of reference is often unclear in an emergencywhere information is often limited.And it might be, in fact, that fleeingis quite reasonable given the limited information

    • 03:49

      DR. JOHN DRURY [continued]: and the circumstances the people find themselves in,in an emergency.[Empirical Problems with Mass Panic]There are also empirical problems with mass panic.Over the years, a large number of case studiesnoted a lack of mass panic in emergency crowds.There was, for example, Janis's study of the atomic bombing

    • 04:12

      DR. JOHN DRURY [continued]: of Japan during World War II.There was Ian Donald and David Canter's studyof the 1987 King's Cross underground fire.And then there was the most well-researched disasterof all time-- the 9/11 World Trade Center evacuation,studied by Ed Galea and his colleagues.All came to the same conclusion.There was very little evidence of panic.

    • 04:33

      DR. JOHN DRURY [continued]: And then a number of researchers reviewedall the existing evidence, and not only suggestedthat there was very little mass panic,but also added that cooperation isrelatively common within crowds and across crowdsin emergencies.So what actually needs to be explained--if personal selfishness is relatively rare,

    • 04:55

      DR. JOHN DRURY [continued]: and cooperation and coordination in crowdsis relatively common-- what we actually need to explainis the sociality of mass emergency behavior, not justthe fatalities.[Social Norms and Interpersonal Bonds]In order to explain sociality in crowds in emergencies

    • 05:17

      DR. JOHN DRURY [continued]: and disasters, theories focusing on social normsand interpersonal bonds developed.One of the first of these was emergent norm theory.This suggested that in emergencies,in fact in all extraordinary situations,crowds will create new norms and new setsrules for how to behave.This idea, the idea of a norm, was

    • 05:39

      DR. JOHN DRURY [continued]: extended in the work of Norris Johnson who pointed outthat norms aren't simply created,but rather, they might preexist the emergency,and is a level of continuity whereby existing norms continueto shape and limit counter behaviors people exhibitin emergencies and disasters.

    • 05:60

      DR. JOHN DRURY [continued]: Some of the best evidence for the role of normsin emergencies is Norris Johnson's own studyof the Beverly Hills Supper Club fire which took place in 1977.In this disaster, over 1,000 people were present,and 165 people died.It was popularly represented in the media

    • 06:21

      DR. JOHN DRURY [continued]: as a case of mass panic.There was the crowd, it was a danger,it was limited possibility to escape.Johnson analyzed the material from this eventin the form of police records.He had access to interviews with over 600 peoplewho were present.And his conclusions were that even when

    • 06:43

      DR. JOHN DRURY [continued]: escape was most urgent, when peopleknew that they were in danger, and they were desperatelytrying to get out, people picked each other up.When the elderly needed help, they were helped most.And even when competition began to emerge,it was still limited by people's social bonds.

    • 07:04

      DR. JOHN DRURY [continued]: All of which suggests that social rulesoperating to structure what people actually did.As well as focusing on social norms,Norris Johnson's work emphasizes existing social bonds,such as relations within a family.This is an idea pursued by Anthony Mawson and his theory

    • 07:24

      DR. JOHN DRURY [continued]: which is a bit more psychological.He says that we actually prefer to stay with our loved onesor seek familiar people, familiar places.And that's more important to us than to escape as individuals.Some evidence for this comes with Jonathan Sime's studyof the fire at the Summerland Leisure Complex,

    • 07:45

      DR. JOHN DRURY [continued]: which took place in 1973.At this disaster which took place on the Isle of Man,50 people died.Sime's study was an analysis of 500 accounts collectedfrom survivors shortly after the fire.And what he did was he coded peopleinto whether they were part of family groups,

    • 08:06

      DR. JOHN DRURY [continued]: whether they were alone, and whether they were in mixedgroups during the fire.His main findings were that peopletried to exit in small family groups rather than alone.And in fact, people who were in mixed groups, that is,with family members and with strangers,made much less effort to stay together.And he concluded from this that people

    • 08:28

      DR. JOHN DRURY [continued]: prefer to stay with loved ones, and even die together, ratherthan escape alone.For example, if you've got an elderly personin the group, or a child, the groupwill be much lower in escaping.And people are more likely to die,but people would prefer to do that than escape individually.Now these normative and interpersonalapproaches-- stressing social rules and social bonds--

    • 08:52

      DR. JOHN DRURY [continued]: both present some advances on mass panic as an explanationof mass emergency behavior because theyboth see mass emergency behavior as meaningful.It's not a descent into mindless irrationality.They also both see mass emergency behavior as socialbecause they say the behavior is structured

    • 09:15

      DR. JOHN DRURY [continued]: by social relationships.And they offer different explanationsthan mass panic for fatalities.People die in a crowd in an emergency,not out of selfishness, but out of caring for each otheraccording to these theories.However, there are still some remaining questions

    • 09:36

      DR. JOHN DRURY [continued]: about these theories in terms of their scopeand their ability to explain all the kinds of phenomenathat we associate with behavior in mass emergencies.Both, you should notice, focus on crowdswhich they say are made up of small groups of peoplewho already know each other.And in fact, Mawson suggests that when

    • 09:58

      DR. JOHN DRURY [continued]: people are among strangers, people panicand don't support each other.But this is important because in many disasterspeople are among strangers as well as affiliates.Think of bomb attacks on transport hubs for example,where people are on their way to work.Sometimes people don't know anyone.

    • 10:20

      DR. JOHN DRURY [continued]: The question is, how do people behave then?[Solidarity Among Strangers]In order to look at solidarity among strangersin a mass emergency, with colleagues Chris Cockingand Steve Reicher, I carried out a studyof behavior among survivors during the July 7 London

    • 10:42

      DR. JOHN DRURY [continued]: bombings in 2005.As you may well know, the bombs took placeduring rush hour on July 7 on three London Undergroundtrains and a bus.56 people were killed including the bombers,and there were over 700 injuries.Now the issue for the survivors was

    • 11:05

      DR. JOHN DRURY [continued]: that they were left on their own,in the dark for up to 20 minutes each,because the emergency services couldn't reach them.There were no communications.They were left on their own.Our study involved gathering accountsfrom over 146 witnesses, most of whom were survivors.

    • 11:26

      DR. JOHN DRURY [continued]: Some of these were gathered from the mass media.Some of them were gathered from the inquiry carried outby the greater London authority in which peoplegave statements.And 17 of the statements were interviewsthat we carried out with survivors.So the first question we asked was,what did people actually do?

    • 11:48

      DR. JOHN DRURY [continued]: Were they helpful, or were they personally selfish?Did they look after number one?And in terms of help, the kind of things we were asking about,and the kind of things people told us they date,including giving reassurance, sharing bottles of water,all the way up to tying tourniquets--a range of behaviors.

    • 12:09

      DR. JOHN DRURY [continued]: Now as you can see from the table,have a way you count the behaviorsfrom whichever source on where the people talkedabout their own behavior.They talked about other people's behavior.Helping behavior massively outnumbered instancesof reported selfish behavior.And just to give you an example of the kind of thing people

    • 12:30

      DR. JOHN DRURY [continued]: talked about, I want to read you an extract from one of our .Interviewees "I remember walking towards the stairs,and at the top of the stairs therewas a guy coming from the other direction.I remember him kind of gesturing, kind of politelythat I should go in front.You first.And I was struck, I thought, God,even in a situation like this someone

    • 12:52

      DR. JOHN DRURY [continued]: has kind of got manners, really."So the next question is, why did peopleallow others to go first?Why did people share bowls of water?Why did people make sacrifices for otherswhen, you might argue, they might be better lookingafter number one.One explanation for why people might have helped others

    • 13:14

      DR. JOHN DRURY [continued]: was, perhaps it was because the bombs had already gone off.So perhaps there wasn't a cost.Perhaps there wasn't a risk to helping other people.So we asked people, did you feel in danger?Did you think you might die?And you can see from the graph that most people whotalked about it said that they were in danger.

    • 13:35

      DR. JOHN DRURY [continued]: They felt in danger of death.They thought they might die after the bombs had gone off.Very few people thought they weren't in danger anymore.Why was that?Well, because they feared secondary devices.They feared they might be hit by another trainif they went onto the tracks.They feared electrified tracks.Various reasons why people thought they might die,

    • 13:58

      DR. JOHN DRURY [continued]: and yet still they helped each other.A second explanation for why helping was so commonhas to do with one of the theories I presented earlier,which is to do with interpersonal bonds.Perhaps it was the case that people were with othersthat they already cared about.Family members, friends-- So we asked people that, too.

    • 14:21

      DR. JOHN DRURY [continued]: Were you with people, family members?And very few people were.You can see from the table that most people who talked about itsaid they were with complete strangers.And of course, it makes sense because this bombing took placeduring rush hour.So why did people help each other?

    • 14:44

      DR. JOHN DRURY [continued]: We developed an explanation for helping behaviorbased on the social identity approach.And in this social identity hypothesis,I'm going to tell you first what we mean by a social identity.Social identity is a sense of selfthat one gets from one's group membership.

    • 15:05

      DR. JOHN DRURY [continued]: And this is always a relational thingbecause a "we" is always defined in relation to a common other.Now once one shares a social identity with others,one is motivated to give them social support.Because their interests, their fate,their well-being becomes my interests,

    • 15:27

      DR. JOHN DRURY [continued]: my fate, my well-being.So that was the first part of the hypothesis--that people shared a social identity.The second part has to do with how that might have come about.What was the basis of shared social identity, because thesewere strangers who had no previous connectionwith each other.So our suggestion was that the emergency itself curated

    • 15:48

      DR. JOHN DRURY [continued]: a sense of common identity.It actually brought people togetherby creating a sense of common fate.That common fate operated to tell peoplethe boundaries of the group.It was a criteria for that shared social identity for that"us" as opposed to "me."

    • 16:09

      DR. JOHN DRURY [continued]: [Accounting for Help]Some evidence for this social identity hypothesiscomes with our finding that more people refer to unity.More people refer to being all in the same boat--another metaphor for a common fate--

    • 16:30

      DR. JOHN DRURY [continued]: than the number of people who refer to disunity.You can see in the graph that numbers aren't absolutelylarge in absolute terms.But in relative terms, the patternis as one would predict.Perhaps better evidence for this processcomes with the vocabulary that interviewees expressed

    • 16:53

      DR. JOHN DRURY [continued]: when talking about their relationswith others during the bombing.A very rich vocabulary of "groupness."People talked about unity, being together, similarity,affinity, being part of a group.Everybody, it didn't matter what color or nationality.You thought these people knew each other.Warmness, vague solidity, empathy, and a nice example

    • 17:18

      DR. JOHN DRURY [continued]: of the contrast between being on the LondonUnderground normally, which many people findan atomizing experience.And the sense of unity that people talked about and felton that day comes with this extractthat I'd just like to read you a little bit of.So the interviewer says, can you tell me

    • 17:38

      DR. JOHN DRURY [continued]: how much unity that was on a scale of one to ten?And the survivor says, I'd say it was very high.I'd say it was seven or eight out of ten.OK, and comparing to before the blast happened,and what do you think the unity was like before?I'd say very low.Three out of ten.I mean, you don't normally think about unity in a normal train

    • 18:00

      DR. JOHN DRURY [continued]: journey.It just doesn't happen.You just want to get from A to B, get a seat, maybe.And the final piece of evidence in relation to the modelis that all of those who referred to unity, alsoreferred to help.So a few conclusions then about the London bomb study.

    • 18:22

      DR. JOHN DRURY [continued]: There was overwhelming evidence of spontaneous mutual aidamong strangers.And that's an important point to stress.There's some evidence that shared fate was the basisof that shared social identity.There was some sense of all beingin the same boat with strangers which brought people together.And there was some evidence that that was linked to helping.

    • 18:42

      DR. JOHN DRURY [continued]: And we think the reason that happensis because shared identity extends the boundaries of selfinterest to include other people who then one wants to help.[Conclusion]In conclusion, this tutorial has not

    • 19:04

      DR. JOHN DRURY [continued]: argued that crowds are always cooperative.And that people in emergencies always behave cooperatively.Because the argument is not that people never overreact.The argument is that collectively the crowdis not inherently the basis of overreaction.All I have done is to indicate some

    • 19:25

      DR. JOHN DRURY [continued]: of the psychological conditions for full cooperationin crowds in emergencies.So to summarize the key points of this tutorial, first of all,the classic examples of mass panicturn out, on closer inspection, not to be mass panic.

    • 19:46

      DR. JOHN DRURY [continued]: And the cause of death in these emergencies was not the crowd.Secondly, the reviews of evidencesuggests very strongly the behavior in mass emergenciesis very typically socially structured.And thirdly, the three explanationsfor crowd speciality are, first, that people

    • 20:08

      DR. JOHN DRURY [continued]: follow social norms.Secondly, that people have existing interpersonal bondswith each other.And then thirdly, the social identity approachwhich explains how an emergency can bring strangers together.

Group Dynamics: Mass Emergency Behavior

View Segments Segment :

Abstract

Dr. John Drury discusses mass emergency behavior and the effect of mass panic on death tolls. Drury looks at this in terms of nightclub fires and the 2005 London bombings. In research studies, many survivors reported more cooperative behavior than competition behavior.

SAGE Video Tutorials
Group Dynamics: Mass Emergency Behavior

Dr. John Drury discusses mass emergency behavior and the effect of mass panic on death tolls. Drury looks at this in terms of nightclub fires and the 2005 London bombings. In research studies, many survivors reported more cooperative behavior than competition behavior.

Back to Top