Human Behaviour During Crises - Deepstash

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Disasters and crises bring out the best in us

Human Behaviour During Crises

Human beings may seem selfish and illogical during times of crisis, but there is evidence that disasters and crises bring out the best in us.

There are reports and sightings of people from different ethnic backgrounds and countries helping and motivating each other, providing much-needed support.

Communities all across the world are strengthening, with people volunteering to help in every aspect, spreading kindness, hope and charity.

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Handling pandemics

When faced with threats so dangerous as the current pandemic, individuals may react in two main ways: they become whether more selfish or more caring in regards to the people around them. 

While one might feel fear or even aggression towards the other, it is useful to try to develop, as much as possible, the compassion and the empathy for the persons who might be at more risk than ourselves.

People's behavior in times of disaster

The available research on the topic mostly shows us that, when faced with a disaster, people tend to be more caring and more concerned about the ones around them. 

Different forms of selflessness are easily reachable by individuals during natural disasters.

Technology and solidarity

While technology may enable us today to stay connected with our friends, families as well as to keep working, it does not bring us the key to solidarity. 

The issue emerges whenever there are long periods of time that require social distancing, as individuals are forced to stay away from their group of friends or families. In order to still remain socially active, one might want to consider becoming more involved in the local community's activities.

Byproducts of Crises
Byproducts of Crises

During war times, the common man is least prepared for dealing with the drastic change of circumstances, displacement, loss of life of the self and loved ones, along with injury, loss of property and mental trauma.

Social and financial distress, loss of morale, and death of innocents are the byproducts of war, the effects of which are felt on the common man for decades.

Benefits Of A Crisis

During the peak of World War II, where it was expected that the citizens would go through hell, the opposite happened. People turned out to be more resilient, driven and motivated during the war.

The looming threat of being dead at any time turned out to be beneficial for the mental conditions and toughness for the individuals. Suicides lessened, and social unity and community bonding increased manifold.

At Home With Adversity
  • We, as human beings are naturally adaptive to a disaster or crisis, and bad times are improving our morale and strengthening our community spirit.
  • Groups of people collaborating, caring for and working with each other, hand in hand, are the ones who are most likely to live through any crisis.
  • The necessary conditions that we need to flourish as individuals and as a species, ironically, emerge during bad times.
The Law Of Unintended Consequences
The Law Of Unintended Consequences

There are many situations and disastrous circumstances where impulsive and emotional solutions are applied, which apparently solve the problem but unintentionally create new problems or collateral damage that may be worse. This is known as The Law Of Unintended Consequences.

Example: The Forest Service rapidly extinguished forest fires as soon as they erupted, causing larger, more severe forest fires due to an abundance of unburned deadwood spread all over.

Decision Making And The Law Of Unintended Consequences

Our worst decisions are only later known to us as being terrible ones. When we make those decisions, we think of them as good ones

We take shortcuts and solve problems in a quick-fix, rapid-relief method. We don’t consider any long-term effects or where the dominos will fall based on our choices.

Reasons We Suffer From The Law Of Unintended Consequences
  1. We play it safe and do not want to take the time and investigate the root cause of a problem.
  2. Our many cognitive biases act like blind spots, making us only see immediate threats.
  3. We focus on something visual and available (like what’s on TV) and worry about those problems instead of focusing on the real but invisible problems which may be more lethal.
  4. Our decisions have certain compounding effects that are not visible for years, yet when the entire time period and the corresponding events are accounted for, the stupidity of the solution is revealed.