Why Did They “Choose” to Stay? Perspectives of Hurricane Katrina Observers and Survivors

Stanford University, Department of Psychology, Stanford, CA 94305-2310, USA.
Psychological Science (Impact Factor: 4.43). 07/2009; 20(7):878-86. DOI: 10.1111/j.1467-9280.2009.02386.x
Source: PubMed


Models of agency--powerful implicit assumptions about what constitutes normatively "good" action--shaped how observers and survivors made meaning after Hurricane Katrina. In Study 1, we analyzed how 461 observers perceived survivors who evacuated (leavers) or stayed (stayers) in New Orleans. Observers described leavers positively (as agentic, independent, and in control) and stayers negatively (as passive and lacking agency). Observers' perceptions reflected the disjoint model of agency, which is prevalent in middle-class White contexts and defines "good" actions as those that emanate from within the individual and proactively influence the environment. In Study 2, we examined interviews with 79 survivors and found that leavers and stayers relied on divergent models of agency. Leavers emphasized independence, choice, and control, whereas stayers emphasized interdependence, strength, and faith. Although both leavers and stayers exercised agency, observers failed to recognize stayers' agency and derogated them because observers assumed that being independent and in control was the only way to be agentic.

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Available from: Hilary Bergsieker, Sep 25, 2014
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    • "American participants had slightly more social resources compared with their White counterparts (cf. Brannon, Markus, & Taylor, 2014; Stephens et al., 2009), rendering our results a conservative test of our hypotheses. Nevertheless, future research is needed to examine whether and how our findings might differ among different racial or ethnic groups and men. "
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    Journal of Cross-Cultural Psychology 08/2014; 45(7):1061-1073. DOI:10.1177/0022022114534768 · 1.42 Impact Factor
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    • "Despite the noted findings, there is mixed evidence that hypothesized constraints and facilitators of preparation have a consistent and substantial effect on the incidence with which individuals prepare for hurricanes. In general, more educated, wealthier, older people, females, and Anglos are more likely to prepare for hurricanes than less educated, poorer, younger individuals, males, and minorities (Anderson-Berry 2004; Baker 2011; Fothergill and Peek 2004; King 2000; Morrow and Enarson 1996; Stephens et al. 2009; Tierney et al. 2001). Homeowners and those who have lived longer in their current residence (Grothmann and Reusswig 2006; Horney et al. 2008; Marsh and Buckle 2001 Mulilis et al. 2000) and those who have had prior experiences with hurricanes (Grothmann and Reusswig 2006; Horney et al. 2008; Kievik and Gutteling 2011; Siegrist and Gutscher 2006; Tierney et al. 2001) 2 are also more likely to prepare for hurricanes. "
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    • "Trapped populations, those with limited capacity to move before, during or after disasters, lack a key option for anticipating, coping with and recovering from disasters (Foresight, 2011). Lack of physical and financial resources to move, legal and cultural obstacles (including discriminations based on gender, ethnicity or mobility status), the lack of supporting trans-local networks and the absence of adequate infrastructure or information can force people in hazard-exposed locations or prevent them from moving or returning to areas where they would enjoy better access to opportunities and services, resulting in increased vulnerability (for the example of Katrina: Stephens et al. 2009; Landry et al. 2007; Elder et al. 2007). "
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