11.06 Lecture - Heroism and Cowardice.docx

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SOC 148
Rob Beamish

11/06/2013 HEROES AND COWARDS TOO? What of Heroism and Cowardice? The stereo-type of the public panicking (panic-flight-shock) and of human stampedes resulting has not been borne out by the evidence… Heroism/Cowardice Altruism and self-preservation are collective acts (too) that reflects social and contextual elements (below) that structure or “call out” either heroism or cowardice… 1. Situational clarity: Unambiguous and clear signs of distress in which the observer cannot assume someone else will come to the rescue… it’s not clear that it’s urgent 2. Social responsibility: The observer must perceive themselves as somehow connected to the fate of the individual or individuals under stress… sense of direct responsibility for that person’s fate (life or death) responsibility is a social response to what’s happening in front of you 3. Modeling behavior: If initial observers act, later ones are more likely to model this behavior- altruism and passivity are “catchy”… altruistic responses often tie to the modeling behavior of Caveat: this also depends on WHO is helping 4. Timing: Finally, timing is crucial; being present early in a crisis makes altruism more likely than arriving to the scene later when “fate” appears to have run its course… An Enduring Image – Public Disaster/ Crisis Panic!!!!! Explanations and Panic-Flight-Shock Myths regarding public panic in disaster, crisis, and emergency contexts endures, in part, because they are easy explanations for complex events and failures where responsibility often also lies with; it deflects responsibility Engineering and design Organization and regulation Management and preparedness THREE MILE ISLAND Technical failures were compounded by human reaction Plant would have saved itself, if people did not intervene the way they did Press conference of three mile island ensured the people that things were being taken care of Company ensured that there was nothing to be concerned about People were upset w/ the way things were being handled and the way people were being lied to NRC Inspectors were sent to 3 mile island People were seen in the plant wearing their respirators and anti-radiation suits Everyone in the control room was in respirators There was no direct lines between the control room and the emergency line All pho
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