Environmental natural disasters and man-made catastrophes. Section B.
a Describe what psychologists have discovered about how people behave during disasters and
Short descriptions of the studies below.
b Evaluate what psychologists have discovered about how people behave during disasters and
Any 4 of the issues below – compare twice
Ethnocentrism – Irish sample (Walsh-Daneshmandi, A. and MacLachlan, M.
(2000)) Turkish Earthquake
Self-report – not really knowing how they feel (Walsh-Daneshmandi, A. and
MacLachlan, M. (2000))
Poor control - no significant decrease in pulmonary functions – St.Helenas
volcano – many stayed indoors for a few days whilst ash settled (Johnson et al
Causality – Post-traumatic stress disorder - depression -Not the primary effect,
perhaps a secondary effect loss of income (Turkish Earthquake or Sims and
Baumann (1972) noted that the heaviest concentration of tornadoes in the USA
was in the Midwest but most tornado related deaths occur in the South. Locus of
Relying upon memory – any of the studies of natural disasters. Use 2 studies and
c Suggest a way in which psychologists could help survivors of disasters after the event. Give reasons
for your answer. 
Make the link between surviving a disaster and Post-traumatic stress disorder and then choose one of
the following bullet points.
There is a range of different ways of treating PTSD in an attempt to help those suffering
from it to regain a sense of control and re-establish a sense of safety in their life. The
different forms of therapy available include:
Cognitive-behavioural therapy: the aim of this therapy is to focus on correcting
the sufferer's painful and intrusive thoughts and patterns of behaviour. This is
done by teaching relaxation techniques and examining and attempting to alter the
person's mental processes. A research article by McNally, Bryant and Ehlers
explored, amongst other factors, the benefits of early intervention using
cognitive-behavioural therapy. A summary of this is described below.
Behaviour therapy: working on behaviourist principles, the aim is to reduce the
panic feelings that are provoked by various stimuli. This is done by
desensitisation as the therapist gradually exposes the sufferer to the panic-
inducing stimuli until the panic reduces.
Psychodynamic psychotherapy: as PTSD results in part from the difference
between the individual's personal values and the reality that they witnessed
during the disaster, psychodynamic psychotherapy aims to help the individual
examine these values and the behaviour that violated them during the disaster.
The aim is therefore to resolve the conscious and unconscious conflicts that were