One of the studies that has emerged from tragedies such as Sept. 11, the Asian tsunami and the tragic nightclub fire in Rhode Island looks at a group’s immediate reaction to a crisis situation. Humans have a need to comprehend a situation before they react, and those 60 seconds could cost them their lives. The Washington Post reports that human behavior in hindsight shows that people have a tendency to try to explain what is happening collectively, rather than just evacuate and ask questions later. The larger the group of people, the more likely they are to stay in an attempt to the discern the event, as in the 1993 attack on the World Trade Center, rather than escape to safety, as sociologist Benigno E. Aguirre of the University of Delaware discovered. He also discovered that larger groups tend to look after one another rather than think only of themselves and rush to safety.
Living in Kansas, we find ourselves in this situation frequently when the tornado sirens sound. How many of us actually seek shelter, as our vigilant forecasters urge? Or do we wait for some sign — like being hit by a tree?
Posted by Angie Holladay
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