Health and Medical News and Resources

General interest items edited by Janice Flahiff

Social Networks Promote Cooperation, Discourage Selfishness, So Nice Guys Can Finish First

 

 

This image is an example of a blocking cluster...

Image via Wikipedia. This Image Is An Example Of A Blocking Cluster In A Social Network.

From the 16 November 2011 Medical News Today article

It turns out nice guys can finish first, and David Rand has the evidence to prove it.

Rand, a post-doctoral fellow in Harvard’s Department of Psychology and a Lecturer in Human Evolutionary Biology, is the lead author of a new paper, which found that dynamic, complex social networks encourage their members to be friendlier and more cooperative, with the possible payoff coming in an expanded social sphere, while selfish behavior can lead to an individual being shunned from the group and left – literally on their own.

As described this week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), the research is among the first such studies to examine social interaction as a fluid, ever-changing process. Previous studies of complex social networks largely used static snapshots of the groups to examine how members were or were not connected. This new approach, Rand said, is the closest scientists have yet come to describing the way the planet’s 6 billion inhabitants interact on a daily basis.

“What we are showing is the importance of the dynamic, flexible nature of real-world social networks,” Rand said. “Social networks are always shifting, and they’re not shifting in random ways. …..

Read the article

November 16, 2011 Posted by | Health News Items, Medical and Health Research News, Psychology | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Crowd Control (or Lack Thereof)

Ninety-five people died in a crush at a soccer match at Hillsborough stadium, in Sheffield, England, in 1989.

Ninety-five people died in a crush at a soccer match at Hillsborough stadium, in Sheffield, England, in 1989.

 

The New Yorker had a fascinating article by John Seabrook about crowd control, crowd deaths, and crowd psychology.  What I found most chilling was the description of what actually physically happens when you are in a dense crowd.

In fact, a crowd is most dangerous when density is greatest. The transition from fraternal smooshing to suffocating pressure—a “crowd crush”—often occurs almost imperceptibly; one doesn’t realize what’s happening until it’s too late to escape. Something interrupts the flow of pedestrians[....]  At a certain point, you feel pressure on all sides of your body, and realize that you can’t raise your arms. You are pulled off your feet, and welded into a block of people. The crowd force squeezes the air out of your lungs, and you struggle to take another breath.

John Fruin, a retired research engineer with the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, is one of the founders of crowd studies in the U.S. In a 1993 paper, “The Causes and Prevention of Crowd Disasters,” he wrote, “At occupancies of about 7 persons per square meter the crowd becomes almost a fluid mass. Shock waves can be propagated through the mass sufficient to lift people off of their feet and propel them distances of 3 m (10 ft) or more. People may be literally lifted out of their shoes, and have clothing torn off. Intense crowd pressures, exacerbated by anxiety, make it difficult to breathe.” Some people die standing up; others die in the pileup that follows a “crowd collapse,” when someone goes down, and more people fall over him. “Compressional asphyxia” is usually given as the cause of death in these circumstances.

Read the rest of this Sense of Science blog item at http://asenseofscience.wordpress.com/2011/08/10/crowd-control-or-lack-thereof/

August 15, 2011 Posted by | Consumer Safety | , , , | Leave a comment

   

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