Press/Media items

This diary study just happened to be taking place when disaster struck, providing a rare insight into vicarious experience of traumatic events

Press/Media: ResearchPopular

01/03/2019

Major disasters clearly take a toll on the survivors who had the misfortune to go through them. But there is another group of people who can suffer mental and physical distress from disasters: those who experience them second-hand, through media coverage and conversation. However, there have always been doubts about studies purporting to show evidence of vicarious distress. Because disasters occur randomly researchers are usually unable to gather data until weeks after the event, and they often have no record of people’s baseline mood before the disaster.

By chance a new Dutch study was able to overcome these limitations. A ready-made group of participants were already recording their daily experiences when, two months into the research project, Malaysian Airlines flight MH17 was shot down over Ukraine by pro-Russian separatists, killing all 298 on board.

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ID: 77707097