Disaster victims rarely panic: Swedish study

The traditional image of people running panic stricken from the scene of a disaster such as a fire or a terrorist attack may be a myth, according to researchers from the Royal Institute of Technology (KTH).   

In reality disaster victims tend to have a much cooler head or show signs of shock and paralysis, says risk researcher Misse Wester at KTH in Stockholm.

“People organize themselves and stick together in groups. The most normal thing to do it to try to run away from danger. It’s completely rational behavior. But it’s mistaken to think they are acting out of panic,” she told Swedish Radio.

This misconception often means authorities use the wrong crisis management plans, such as keeping the public uninformed during a disaster for fear of creating panic.

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