Event Title

“Rediscovering Humanity”: Cultivating Community and Defying Norms in the Wake of Tragedy

Presenter Information

Isabel Ratner, Oberlin College

Location

PANEL: Challenging Predictions, Patterns, and Expectations of Human Social Behavior
Wilder Hall 112

Document Type

Presentation

Start Date

5-13-2022 3:00 PM

End Date

5-13-2022 4:30 PM

Abstract

Media, politicians, and historians have long generated firm ideas of what happens to civil society when “all hell breaks loose” — namely, in the aftermath of natural disasters and sudden tragedies. Stemming from a Hobbesian approach of human nature, the common beliefs are that disaster leads to chaos, that people become their worst selves, and that citizens run away from one another. These views, however, give little credence to the selflessness and need for community that all people possess. In this presentation, I debunk these myths by presenting a more hopeful, human, and accurate view of society in the aftermath of tragedy. From an extensive literature review spanning the fields of psychology, sociology, and anthropology, I will discuss the unique properties and outcomes of isolated disaster events. I will support these ideas with real-life examples. Ultimately, I will assert that these findings and examples demonstrate how human responses to disaster run counter to several prominent social psychological theories of human behavior.

Keywords:

Disaster, Social norms, Human nature, Altruism

Project Mentor(s)

Clinton Merck, Psychology

2022

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May 13th, 3:00 PM May 13th, 4:30 PM

“Rediscovering Humanity”: Cultivating Community and Defying Norms in the Wake of Tragedy

PANEL: Challenging Predictions, Patterns, and Expectations of Human Social Behavior
Wilder Hall 112

Media, politicians, and historians have long generated firm ideas of what happens to civil society when “all hell breaks loose” — namely, in the aftermath of natural disasters and sudden tragedies. Stemming from a Hobbesian approach of human nature, the common beliefs are that disaster leads to chaos, that people become their worst selves, and that citizens run away from one another. These views, however, give little credence to the selflessness and need for community that all people possess. In this presentation, I debunk these myths by presenting a more hopeful, human, and accurate view of society in the aftermath of tragedy. From an extensive literature review spanning the fields of psychology, sociology, and anthropology, I will discuss the unique properties and outcomes of isolated disaster events. I will support these ideas with real-life examples. Ultimately, I will assert that these findings and examples demonstrate how human responses to disaster run counter to several prominent social psychological theories of human behavior.