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Titanic Passengers Less Selfish Than Some in Other Disasters
Date:3/1/2010

't really a disaster, at least at first. So instead of an immediate fight-or-flight response, there was a perception of control, for better or worse. And we know that that perception will reduce stress and affect behavior," Gatchel said.

"On the other hand, people on the Lusitania were no longer under the illusion that these big ships could not go down. They knew of the great publicity of the Titanic, and they didn't want to be part of another incident like that. So they lost their sense of control, which increased stress levels. And then it became a free-for-all in terms of survival of the fittest. And I'm also sure just in terms of the cadence of the voice of the officers the urgency to get off was greater, if for no other reason than because another torpedo could be fired. So, I think probably general panic was not only among the passengers but among the officers themselves," Gatchel said.

More information

National Public Radio has more on the economics of human behavior.



SOURCES: Benno Torgler, Ph.D., professor, School of Economics and Finance, Queensland University of Technology, Brisbane, Australia; Robert J. Gatchel, professor, clinical health psychology, and chairman, department of psychology, University of Texas at Arlington; March 1-5, 2010, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, online


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