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  • Crowd psychology and crowd safety: From disaster to prevention

    Dr John Drury School of Psychology University of Sussex

    UK

  • Crowd psychology and crowd safety

    an unlikely pairing?

    Traditional ideas about crowd psychology: Mindlessness and barbarism Loss of self, loss of control Mass panic

  • Overview

    1. How crowds behave in emergencies

    2. The social identity approach

    3. The role of crowds in disaster prevention

  • The received wisdom

    Most deaths in night-club fires are due to crowd panic, not the fire itself

    A textbook case:

    Cocoanut Grove nightclub fire, 1942 (492 people died)

  • Cocoanut Grove nightclub fire, 1942 (Chertkoff & Kushigian, 1999)

    The emergency exit door was locked

    Windows were sealed Many died from fumes and then a

    ball of fire.

    Enquiry: no implication that crowd over-reaction or selfishness caused the deaths.

    The management were prosecuted for manslaughter and neglect of building laws.

  • Conceptual problems with mass panic

    Quarantelli (1960) How do we know its panic? Flight is a more scientific term for behaviour.

    To judge a response as

    irrational/unreasonable requires a frame of reference.

  • Empirical problems with mass panic

    Case studies note a lack of mass panic: Atomic bombing of Japan during World

    War II (Janis, 1951)

    Kings Cross Underground fire of 1987

    (Donald & Canter, 1990)

    9/11 World Trade Center disaster (Blake, Galea, Westeng, & Dixon, 2004)

  • Reviews of the evidence also note the

    absence of panic

    Panic is actually rare in crowds (Brown, 1965;

    Johnson, 1988; Keating, 1982)

    But what does this mean?

  • Generic or common reactions? Loss of behavioural control Selfishness Disorderly responses

    BUT Cooperation is relatively common - within and

    across emergencies Evacuations are often orderly

  • Explanations

    1. Social norms (Johnson, 1987, 1988)

    Explaining or re-

    describing?

    The Beverly Hills Supper Club fire, 1977 156 fatalities

    (Johnson, 1988)

    Police records: interviews with 630 people present The elderly were helped more than the less vulnerable

  • Explanations

    2. Ties of affiliation (Mawson, 2005, 2007)

    Fire at the Summerland leisure complex, 1973 50 fatalities (Sime, 1983)

    People tried to exit in small (family) groups, not alone People prefer to stay with loved ones, and even die together,

    rather than escape alone.

  • How do strangers behave with each other in an emergency?

  • 7th July 2005 London bombings 56 people died 700+ injuries Emergency services didnt reach all the survivors immediately The crowd was left in the dark for up to 20 minutes or more

  • The study

    Accounts from over 146 witnesses 90 of whom were survivors 17 interviewed/written responses

    Drury, Cocking, & Reicher (2009) International Journal of Mass Emergencies and Disasters

  • Helping (versus personal selfishness)

    (Helping = giving reassurance, sharing water, pulling people from the wreckage, supporting people up as they evacuated, tying tourniquets)

    Contemporaneous newspaper accounts

    Archive personal accounts

    Primary data: Interviews and e-mails

    I helped 57 42 13 I was helped 17 29 10 I saw help 140 50 17+ Selfish behaviours 3 11 4

    Drury, Cocking, & Reicher (2009) International Journal of Mass Emergencies and Disasters

  • I remember walking towards the stairs and at the top of the stairs there was a guy coming from the other direction. I remember him kind of gesturing; kind of politely that I should go in front- you first that. And I was struck I thought, God even in a situation like this someone has kind of got manners, really.

    (LB 11)

    Drury, Cocking, & Reicher (2009) International Journal of Mass Emergencies and Disasters

  • Why did people help each other?

    Archive personal accounts

    Interviews and e-mails

    Possibility of death 68 12 Not going to die 2 1 With affiliates 8 2 With strangers 57 15

    Drury, Cocking, & Reicher (2009) International Journal of Mass Emergencies and Disasters

  • SOCIAL IDENTITY We all have personal identities (me)

    We also each have multiple social identities,

    based on group memberships (us)

    Physical crowds can become united through shifting from personal to shared social identity (Reicher, 1984)

  • Applying social identity to emergency crowds

    Hypothesis 1: Antecedence of shared social identity

    An emergency can create a sense of common fate (new group boundaries)

    People use this common fate to define their identity Hypothesis 2: Consequences of a shared social identity

    They = us Caring about others Giving social support

  • Int: Comparing to before the blast happened what do you think the unity was like before?

    LB 1: Id say very low- three out of ten, I mean you dont really think about unity in a normal train journey, it just doesnt happen you just want to get from A to B, get a seat maybe

    (LB 1)

    Me in relation to other individuals

  • Interviewees references to we-ness:

    unity, together similarity affinity part of a group

    everybody, didnt matter what colour or nationality you thought these people knew each other teamness[sic] warmness vague solidity empathy

    Afterwards: Us in relation to the bombing

  • Accounting for help

    Archive personal accounts

    Interviews and e-mails

    Shared fate 11 5 Unity 20 11 Disunity 0 1

    Drury, Cocking, & Reicher (2009) International Journal of Mass Emergencies and Disasters

  • Int: Can you say how much unity there was on a scale of one to ten [after the explosion]?

    LB 1: Id say it was very high Id say it was seven or eight out of ten.

    (LB 1)

    Almost all who referred to unity also referred

    to help

    Drury, Cocking, & Reicher (2009) International Journal of Mass Emergencies and Disasters

  • Further research aims

    1. Test the social identity account with a representative sample

  • Further research aims

    1. Test the social identity account with a representative sample

    2. Examine the (mediating) role of expected social support

  • Further research aims

    1. Test the social identity account with a representative sample

    2. Examine the (mediating) role of expected social support

    3. Examine relationship between social identity and observing the (solidarity) behaviour of others

  • Our opportunity: The 2012 Solidarity Survey (MIDE UC

    Measurement Center at Pontificia Universidad Catlica de Chile and Hogar de Cristo)

    We piggy-backed that survey to ask about the Chile earthquake of 2010

    Drury, Brown, Gonzalez, & Miranda (2015) European Journal of Social Psychology

  • Chile earthquake and tsunami, 2010

    Earthquake occurred off the coast of central Chile on 27th February 2010

    Triggered a tsunami in coastal towns

    521 died, 9% of the population in the affected areas lost their homes

    Emergency services overwhelmed

    Solidarity was therefore essential for survival and recovery

    Drury, Brown, Gonzalez, & Miranda (2015) European Journal of Social Psychology

  • Questionnaire

    Survey of a representative sample of 1240 adults in the affected regions (non-affected regions excluded)

  • Results 1: Effects of social identification

    Common fate

    Social identification

    Expect support

    Give support

    Coordinate

  • Results 2: Effects of others behaviour

    Common fate

    Social identification

    Expect support

    Give support

    Coordinate

    Others solidarity

  • Results 3: Moderation

    Common fate

    Social identification

    Expect support

    Give support

    Coordinate

    Others solidarity

  • The story so far

    1. Cooperation among strangers is common in

    emergencies

    2. Social identity provides: Motivations to provide social support Expectations of social support

  • 2. From disaster to prevention

    The public as the fourth emergency service Necessary because of absence of professional

    responders

    What about potentially dangerous crowd events? Here too professionals may be limited in efficacy

  • A near disaster

    250,000 people (60,000 expected) Emergency services overwhelmed Exit routes blocked

    Panic at DJ Fatboy Slims Beach party seaside resort [brought] to the brink

    of disaster (Guardian, 21st July 2002)

  • A near disaster

    1. Some people climbed up the lighting rigs

    2. Part of the crowd was close to the waterline as the tide came in, a crowd surge as people tried to evacuate

    3. Risk of crushing; some participants became distressed

    BUT it WASNT the disaster that people feared!

  • Research questions

    1. To what extent did social identity processes in the crowd explain resilient outcomes (e.g., safety)?

    2. How did the professional groups and crowd participants perceive that disaster was averted?

    (Intergroup perspective)

    Drury, Novelli, & Stott (2015) European Journal of Soci

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