The comparative interview study


We recruited 21 survivors of 11 real and perceived emergencies. We carried out in-depth interviews, subjecting the data to qualitative and quantitative analysis. The results led to an elaboration of our hypothesis and a more dynamic account of psychological responses to emergency evacuation and disasters. First, we found no evidence for events which could be characterized as ‘mass panic’. This supported the literature, according to which panic is extremely rare. Second, we found that, while our data included different crowd events, there was a common experience of uniting in response to the emergency. In crowds where there was already some common identity – such as football fans – the sense of unity broadened to cover all those affected by the danger, not just supporters of the same team. Thus we were able to show that, while a common identity did indeed predict mutual helping and concern (and even self-sacrifice to help strangers on some occasions), a common identity itself is an emergent function of the experience of an emergency or disaster.


More details:

Drury, J., Cocking, C., & Reicher, S. (2009). Everyone for themselves? A comparative study of crowd solidarity amongst emergency survivors. British Journal of Social Psychology, 48, 487-506. DOI:10.1348/014466608X357893


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