Wednesday, April 22, 2020

Technological catastrophe Essay Example

Technological catastrophe Paper An environmental disaster is a natural disaster that few people will experience in their lifetime. These are relatively infrequent natural events that are the product of natural physical forces governing the earth and atmosphere. A technological catastrophe is a human made disaster, the result of some human error or miscalculation. These events are usually called disasters when there is a substantial degree of destruction and disruption and the events are uncontrollable either because they are natural disasters or because they represent the occasional loss of control over something which humans normally control very well. Psychologists have studied disasters and catastrophes in an attempt to ascertain what characterises a disaster and what the psychological effects of disaster and catastrophe.  It has been found that the characteristics of a disaster effect how people react. One important characteristic is the amount of warning available. Fritz Marks (1954) found that a lack of warning about a disaster can make the consequences worse, however Drabek Stephenson (1971) found that the effectiveness of repeated warnings of flash floods was undermined by factors such as families being separated at the time of warnings they showed more concern for locating each other than evacuating, and the method used to deliver warnings the news media reached the most people but was least effective in producing appropriate responses. We will write a custom essay sample on Technological catastrophe specifically for you for only $16.38 $13.9/page Order now We will write a custom essay sample on Technological catastrophe specifically for you FOR ONLY $16.38 $13.9/page Hire Writer We will write a custom essay sample on Technological catastrophe specifically for you FOR ONLY $16.38 $13.9/page Hire Writer Psychologists have also studied peoples awareness and perception of the risks they face from natural disaster. One field study by Simms Baumann (1972) suggests that personality determines perception of risk. They found that residents of Alabama were more external in their locus of control, believing in the forces of fate rather than personal responsibility. These residents were less likely to take precautions such as listening to radio reports of weather and preparing for storms, than residents in Illinois, who had internal locus of control. Death rates from Tornadoes were higher in the southern areas (Alabaman) than in the mid west (Illinois) this suggests that personality factors affect peoples perceived risk from natural disaster. There have been many studies of the psychological effects of disaster. Bowman (1964) observed the responses of psychiatric patients to a massive earthquake in Alaska and found that initial responses were very positive, people wanted to help and there was an increased feeling of unity. This suggests that social cohesiveness may increase in response to disasters.  However many other negative effects have been found. Wood (1992) found earthquake survivors experienced twice as many nightmares as a control group of Ps from the university of Arizona who did not live near the earthquake. In a case study of survivors from the Herald of Free Enterprise disaster Joseph et al (1993) found increased levels of alcohol, cigarettes, sleeping pills, anti depressants and tranquilliser consumption, and these effects were still evident 30 months after the disaster.  This suggests that psychological effects of disasters may be widespread and long lasting.  In contrast to environmental disasters, evidence suggest that technological catastrophes do not increase social cohesion. Cuthbertson Nigg (1987) found people exposed to toxins (asbestos and pesticides) in two separate incidents in America, were divided into victims who were worried about the effects and those who were unconcerned. The difference in opinion was a basis for conflict and resentment, and no evidence was found of the development of supportive and cohesive groups. This was field experiment using interviews questionnaires and observations. However some research has found similarities in the effects of technological catastrophes and natural disasters, particularly in stress related problems. Davidson Baum (1986) studied people living near Three Mile Island at the time of a nuclear disaster and radiation leak. They found effects of stress 6 years after the event these included physiological measurements such as adrenalin levels and self-report measures such as sleep disturbance questionnaires. This research suggests people may suffer from the effects of catastrophes long after the event is over.  b) Evaluate what psychologists have learned about environmental disaster and/or technological catastrophe  The first evaluation issue is Methodology, and the fact that most of the research into disasters and catastrophes i   carried out after the event and therefore it is impossible to make comparisons of responses before the disaster. For example Woods (1992) findings of earthquake survivors suffering twice as many nightmares after the disaster than a control group, however there is no information on these people before the earthquake. IN COMPARISON Davidsons (1986) study of stress levels people living near Three Mile Island also could not compare these responses with pre disaster information. In CONTRAST Bowman (1964) was able to observe responses of psychiatric patients during and immediately after an event and made comparisons to their behaviour prior to the event. However in most cases research cannot make such comparisons.  The second evaluation issue is measurement, which is how psychologists actually measure the variables they are interested in. In disaster situations measurement is often difficult due to the chaotic conditions in which research is carried out. Cuthbertson Nigg (1987) used interviews, questionnaires and observations to try to measure social cohesiveness in two communities where technological catastrophes had occurred. These measurements may lack validity, which is being sure that a measurement actually does measure the variable it claims to measure, and reliability, which means the measurement being reliable over time, since the methods used may suffer from problems of social desirability responses and observer bias. In COMPARISON the measurements used by Simms Baumann were personality based questionnaires and interviews, and these may also lack validity and reliability, as these researchers used these measurements as an indication of perceived risk from natural disaster. In CONTRAST Davidson Baum (1986) used a range of both physiological and self-report measures of stress, and these measurements were high in validity and reliability.  The third evaluation issue is ethnocentrism, which means applying the norms found in one culture to the whole of the world. A great deal of research in disasters and catastrophes has been carried out in America and Europe, western cultures. For example Simms Baumanns research was carried out in Illinois and Alabama, but these researchers used their results to make generalisations about personality and perception of risk from disaster. In COMPARISON Bowmans research with psychiatric patients was carried out in Alaska, however Bowman also made generalisations about social cohesiveness in responses to disasters. It could be argued that in some cultures collectivism is already much greater than in western cultures that tend to be more individualistic, and therefore this research may be of little use in predicting responses to disaster globally. In further COMPARISON research in technological disasters and social cohesion by Cuthbertson Nigg (1987) was also carried out in America and again may be of little use in predicting how people may respond in other cultures. The fourth evaluation issue is sampling methods, that is the way in which psychologists have obtained a sample from their chosen population. The best sampling method to use is a random sample, where each member of a population has an equal chance of being selected. However in research carried out in the aftermath of some disaster or catastrophe this is rarely possible. Measurement must often be done quickly and therefore samples may be non-representative and can limit the extent to which generalisations can be made. In research carried out by Bowman an opportunity sample was used of psychiatric patients, and therefore generalisations from these individuals to other populations cannot really be made. In COMPARISON Wood (1992) also used an opportunity sample of earthquake survivors therefore it is not safe to generalise from these findings. In CONTRAST the study carried out by Simms Baumann was not conducted in the immediate aftermath of a disaster and could therefore have used random sampling methods such as the electoral role in order to select participants from the two areas compared.

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