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WATCH: Psychology talk on how we respond to disasters

People wading through floodwaters

Dr Evangelos Ntontis recently gave a talk in which he discussed how people respond to disasters and extreme events. The talk titled ‘“Panic in the skies”? Myths and realities about human behaviour in disasters and extreme events’ was based on Evangelos’ work on flooding incidents and on the COVID-19 pandemic as well as on research carried out by other scholars from within the social sciences.  

Evangelos said: ‘Everyday ways of thinking are full of misconceptions about how people behave in times of crisis. When hearing about extreme events, it is not uncommon for our minds to instantly think about people screaming and panicking. This is not accidental, there is sadly a long history of some scholars treating humans as very fragile and as prone to losing control over their behaviour, particularly in crowd conditions. However, a closer look shows the exact opposite – even in the worst of times, people most often come together, form communities, and provide each other with compassion and support. This was my aim in this talk – to provide an overview of all these myths and misconceptions, explain why this is the case, and describe how people actually behave during disasters.  

Watch the talk via YouTube

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