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Disaster Study Num her 1 0 Disaster Research Group Division of Anthropology and Psychology THE EFFECTS OF A THREATENING RUMOR ON A DISASTER-STRICKEN COMMUNITY by Elliott R. Danzig Paul W. Thayer Lila R. Galanter Prepared for Federal Civil Defense Administration and The Disaster Research Group I Formerly The Committee on Disaster Studies ) Publication 517 NATIONAL ACADEMY OF SCIENCES-NATIONAL RESEARCH COUNCIL Washington, D. C. 1 958 fit - /~ EXECUTIVE ~, A OFFfcE al Aid. t13RARY ~
Library of Cong re s s Catalog Card No. 57-60052 · - 11
PREFAC E As the findings and methodology of disaster research have developed, it has become increasingly possible and desirable to follow broad studies of social and psychological phenomena with studies which focus galore sharply and rigorously on a limited number of hypotheses. In the research reported in this publication, the investigators ask a limited number of research questions about a relatively clear-cut situation. Large numbers of persons evacuated a city when a rumor was circulated that an upstream dam had burst. How did the rumor originate and how did it reach the people? What were the factors that determined whether a person who heard the rumor left town or stayed? The re suits of the inve stigation of the s e and related que stions add to a growing body of information on warning and communication in disaster. These are subjects of intense practical importance to officials and of great theoretical interest to behavioral scientists. The study was sponsored jointly by the Federal Civil Defense Administration and the Committee on Disaste r Studie s and is published with the approval of FCDA. At the time of the study, the authors were staff members of the Institute for Research in Human Relations and the study was a project of that organization. The Committee's share of the sponsorship was provided from funds supplied by a grant from the Ford Foundation. It is now published by the Disaster Research Group in continuation of the publication program initiated by the Committee. We are grateful to Mr. Charles Gras sey, Director of Civil Defens e, Port Jervis, N. Y., for providing the map which appear s in the report. The issuance of this report does not necessarily imply agreement by every member of the Committee on Disaster Studies or by the sponsor- ing agencies with every statement made in the report. Har ry B . Williams Technical Director Disaste r Res ear ch Group . . .
ACKNOWLEDGMENTS The research reported here was made possible through grants from the Federal Civil Defense Administration and the Committee on Disaster Studies of the National Academy of Scier~ces-National Research Council. Dr. Harry B. number of helpful ideas . Williams suggested this study and offered a regarding the hypotheses to be tested, as well as ect~tor~ar improvements in the report. Mr. Charles Fritz gave us several days of his time ire the field and contributed nume rous valuabl e sugge sti ons teas ed upon hi s broad experience in the area of disaster research. Mr s . P aul W . Thaye r help e d sub st anti ally in the p r ep ar ation of the codes and the coding procedures. Dr. Murray Gerstenhaber suggested the game theoretic model set forth here and reviewed the chapter on this topic. Mr. James J. Keenan worked continuously during the field phase of the study on the various administrative details and contrib- uted valuable ideas related to the ove r all obj e ct. ve s . Mr. James Moss helped greatly by recruiting interviewers. Finally, the authors owe special thanks to the various civic officials of the City of Port Jervis, and especially to the Civil Defense officials. Without their whole-hearted cooperation, this study would have been impo s sible .