Disaster Related Social Behavior: Summary of 50 Years of Research Findings

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Disaster Research Center
This paper summarizes much although not all of what is known about overall disaster related social behavior. Drawing from a base of 50 years of social science research involving thousands of studies, we note the typical patterns of behavior at the individual, organizational, community and mass media levels. The last is a surrogate for reactions at the societal level. To avoid interminable and specific documentation, readers are presented a large bibliography at the end of this paper that lists the major research literature examined for the purpose of this essay. Most disasters impact a community. However, there are non-community types of disasters, e.g., a plane crash in an isolated rural area. This affects behavioral responses (e.g., crash survivors do not receive the social support that emerges in a community when residents have undergone a common disaster experience). The 20 general observations below around which we organize our comments, are mostly about community disasters. This is the paper written as background for the oral remarks to be made at the 8Th International Symposium on Natural and Technological Hazards: Hazards 2000 to be held in Tokushima, Shikoku, Japan, May 21-25, 2000.
Disaster Research, Mitigation, Emergency Response, Organization, Mass Media