Whatever Happened to Irrationally Running in Circles?

In his latest article in Significance, Steve Gwynne asks, “How do we behavpages-from-safety-in-numbers1e in emergencies.” Essentially, it is all about Safety in Numbers. Analyzing responses to fire, Gwynne debunks myths of irrationality and claims that, “human behavior in emergencies is complex but not chaotic.” Interestingly, the:

“Critical response is that people prefer the familiar. If you enter a building using the same route every day, then that is the route you will probably use in an emergency even if you know of others”

In addition to the familiarity factor, people don’t act individually. They act collectively:

“They found that the social groupings that were present before the fire tended to exist even in death – that people tried to care for those important to them.”

Beyond mama-lion syndrome, this extends into friends clusters and groups with whom you closely identify. While Gwynne lacks good data, his arguments provide the basis for spatial models integral to humanitarian relief. If we can model how communities behave in the face of disasters, we can establish more effective humanitarian corridors, anticipate population needs, and account for potential directional movement.

It’s going to be a good day when there is enough satellite data of population movement to draw a cross-cultural picture of collective behavior response in the face of emergency.

Advertisements

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s