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Chapter 13

PSY 802 Chapter Notes - Chapter 13: Familicide, Natural Disaster, 2004 Indian Ocean Earthquake And Tsunami

Course Code
PSY 802
Thomas Hart

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Chapter 13
Peril: risk of being injured, destroyed, or lost
Risks cannot be totally eliminated, but can usually be minimized
Megadeaths: encounters with death that involve massive loss of life
Accidents and Unintentional Injuries
Unintentional injury: injury without intended harm
Including motor vehicles, home, leisure, weather related, work, etc.
Accident: event that occurs by chance, from unknown causes, or because of carelessness, lack
of awareness, or ignorance
Accidents occur disproportionately higher rates among younger people; leading
cause of death in 1-24 y/o
Guilt may be greater than usual deaths due to need to assign blame/responsibility in
accidental deaths
Anger may be present if deceased contributed to their own death in any way
Insel/Roth: most injuries caused by combination of human (commonly – for example – risk-
taking behaviour) and environmental factors
Motor Vehicle Accidents
Choices people make affect probabilities of accidents
Driver’s judgment and performance inversely related to amount of alcohol consumed
50% of drivers involved in accidents are under influence of alcohol
1/3 traffic fatalities involve drivers with blood alcohol content (BAC) of 0.8% or more
(legal limit in all states)
Driver’s tendency to overrate driving abilities directly – and positively – related to amount of
alcohol consumed
Young drivers disproportionately at fault for crashes in which they are involved
Lack of experience compounded by unsafe use of technology can be deadly
To increase teen driver safety, some states instituted “graduated driver license” laws that
allow for incremental gains in experience
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Environmental Factors
“Accidents waiting to happen” refers to unsafe conditions in environment
May be due to negligence or simply ignorance of the threat
Unsafe conditions often related to attitudes/value systems of person or group responsible, or
of society as a whole
Negligence: lack of resolve to take necessary actions in correcting unsafe conditions
Wrongful Deaths
Wrongful death: death due to negligence or misconduct of another individual, company, or
Wrongful implies death could have been avoided by different actions or choices on the
part of the person(s) involved
Thus, in wrongful death cases, there is someone to blame or hold accountable
Wrongful death lawsuit may be brought by decedent’s immediate family members
Usually children and spouses
Sometimes parents
Risk Taking
Risk: hazards that are actively assessed in relation to future possibilities
Some risks identified only after years of exposure to hazardous condition (e.g. smoking)
Degree of risk we assume subject to our own choices about how we live our lives
In some cases, we can exercise considerable choice about nature/degree of risk to which
we are exposed
Willingness to take risks influenced by images in media and popular culture
E.g. “ghost-riding the whip” popular among devotees of hyphy hip-hop strain;
has killed at least two people
Growing recognition that exhaustion by chronic overwork can harm or kill healthy people;
job-related stress is legally recognized as a cause of death in Japan
Karoshi: sudden death from overwork, characterized as a buildup of fatigue caused
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Long hours of work that clearly exceed normal physiological limitations
oRise of global markets (with corresponding time differences) forces
workers to conduct business long into the night after normal day’s work
Disruptions in normal daily rhythms (often related to travel or lengthy
Other job-related strains
oUsually heart attack or stroke from being malnourished and stressed
oTypical case: 34 hour shifts, 5 times a month as a nurse
oOverworking associated with depression
oCriteria used for determining “overworking” is 80+ hours
o8.8% full-time employees put in 60+ hours/week (crossing threshold)
oMore prevalent among males in 30s
oLaws now in place to prevent overwork
Individuals relate to risk-taking in different ways; possibility of death found in recreational
activities that are sometimes patented as thrill-seeking (although many participants do not ascribe
this motive to themselves)
Activity may be attractive because of its inherent risk; in other cases, risk may be
accepted as inseparable from other attractive features of the activity
When behaviour involves doing dangerous things just for the thrill, or as a way to
“laugh in the face of death,” may represent attempt to deny death anxiety/fear
Fischhoff/Kadvany: contrary to myth of perceived invulnerability, many teens
exaggerate their chances of dying young; thus, risks may be taken because
they do not expect to live (rather than because they do not expect to die)
When death results from high-risk sport/activity, can strongly impact others who partake in
the same activity
Death challenges assumption that cautiousness ensures safety
Rumors that deceased failed to enact necessary precautions may serve to mitigate feelings
of guilt about having been unable to prevent the death
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