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Nature and determinants of social actions during a mass shooting

Abstract : Reactions to danger have been depicted as antisocial but research has shown that supportive behaviors (e.g., helping injured others, giving information or reassuring others) prevail in life-threatening circumstances. Why is it so? Previous accounts have put the emphasis on the role of psychosocial factors, such as the maintenance of social norms or the degree of identification between hostages. Other determinants, such as the possibility to escape and distance to danger may also greatly contribute to shaping people's reactions to deadly danger. To examine the role of those specific physical constraints, we interviewed 32 survivors of the attacks at 'Le Bataclan' (on the evening of 13-11-2015 in Paris, France). Consistent with previous findings, supportive behaviors were frequently reported. We also found that impossibility to egress, minimal protection from danger and interpersonal closeness with other crowd members were associated with higher report of supportive behaviors. As we delved into the motives behind reported supportive behaviors, we found that they were mostly described as manifesting cooperative (benefits for both interactants) or altruistic (benefits for other(s) at cost for oneself) tendencies, rather than individualistic (benefits for oneself at cost for other(s)) ones. Our results show that supportive behaviors occur during mass shootings, particularly if people cannot escape, are under minimal protection from the danger, and feel interpersonal closeness with others. Crucially, supportive behaviors underpin a diversity of motives. This last finding calls for a clear-cut distinction between the social strategies people use when exposed to deadly danger, and the psychological motivations underlying them.
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Submitted on : Friday, January 7, 2022 - 3:20:20 PM
Last modification on : Wednesday, January 26, 2022 - 4:48:40 PM


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Guillaume Dezecache, Jean-Rémy Martin, Cédric Tessier, Lou Safra, Victor Pitron, et al.. Nature and determinants of social actions during a mass shooting. PLoS ONE, Public Library of Science, 2021, 16 (12), pp.e0260392. ⟨10.1371/journal.pone.0260392⟩. ⟨hal-03517025⟩



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