A casual movie buff may simply see a characters reaction as an irrational snap decision, however, through a psychological and sociological examination, one can come to better understand of characters pleas. One cannot assume that the character just wishes to put distance between themselves and their attackers; especially not during a zombie apocalypse. Lets take a look at George A. Romeos 2004 Dawn of the Dead for a moment. The mall was well defended, surely had adequate food, and they were completely surrounded.
Why attempt an escape to somewhere that was referred to as ¦an island that for all we know doesnt even exist. ? Environmental Psychology The viewer must examine sever different aspect of the scenario that the characters are being put into. The environment itself is a large factor in the equation; also to be considered is the group dynamics and stresses that are arising. Finally, and perhaps more importantly, the risks. All of these factors of the situation in which the characters are placed can alone, or collectively, cause a people in any shelter to decide to leave.
Potentially the largest determining element of any long termed survival could be the environmental aspect. Setting aside the obvious insecurities of poor shelters, try to look at the other features someone would like in their dwellings. Imagine several different locations, all equally safe for arguments sake, an office building, a mall, a school, a prison. Some options arent quite as appealing as others. These differences can be seen the best by using environmental psychology to understand what a groups wants within a shelter.
Someone can use environmental psychology to study an individual or a group in a social context by looking at the places where people are at and examining the perceptions, attitudes, evaluations and representations, and the accompanying behaviors (Kazdin 421). In almost any movie where the suggestion of getting out is brought up, we can look at some of the characters perceptions and attitudes to see that the location has fallen short of being perfect for the survivors. The environment is a relationship between individuals and their life spaces.
That means not only should the environment provide us with all that we need to survive but also the spaces in which to appreciate, understand, and act to fulfill higher needs and aspirations (423). This leads to the question then of; if we cannot look at it simply as a space to stay in, then how should we look at it? The answer is that a place is not simple an empty building or space; it is, but also it is an expression of an idea or of a culture. Made to be warm and encourage relaxation, or cold and sterile to promote work and organization (420). An office building is plain, organized, and open.
The idea of an office is to have very little distraction away from the work. The coloring is usually white to keep from distracting the eye or drawing attachment by employees. Typically a person enjoys a place with more color and not as structured. A good example of this idea of attachment and welcome is seen in Edgar Wrights Shaun of the Dead, where they chose to go to a local bar call The Winchester mainly off of the fact that is was a familiar place that they visited frequently.
Altman and Chemers (1980) identified three types or levels of territory: Primary territory (e. g. home or private office space), where usually only one or two people are in control of its organization. The area is highly personalized and more easily draws attachment from a person. Secondary territories (e. g. , the classroom or open plan office), These areas are intended for larger groups but control of the area is temporary and personalization is minimal. Public territory (e. g. , the street, parks), where there is no personalization and the area is very open making protection difficult if not impossible (424). Most often primary territories are too constrained to allow for large groups to reside there for long periods.
Secondary territories are typically the ones seen being used as in Dawn of the Dead where they use a mall and also in Day of the Dead where they take shelter in a large military base. They exist in a larger area but they also can retreat to a person area where they have customized a private area to their own preferences. A public place, as seen in George A. Romeros Land of the Dead is one of few cases where such a large area is uses as a refuge. While this landscape did allow for comfortable private areas for a select, elite few, the majority of the people lived on the streets in discontent and resentment for the others.
In this scenario we can clearly see the breakdown of the environmental factors as some survivors mention escaping to Canada (an area believe to be safe from the zombie plague) even though all the citizens at this point were protected. Ideally, territories are controllable spaces that serve to allow for the personalization and regularization of who comes in. This idea, territoriality, then actually provides an actual function in being able to allow people to have a feeling of safety, predictability, order, and stability in their own surroundings (424)
In movies where a group of people are kept up in a larger secure area, and they have a private space, we can then look at its own function. Understand what is involved in private space. Personal space is important for not only an individual but also the well being of the community (424). It allows people to escape from each other whenever we need a break from everything. It is our own spot to go and relax for a while as we do some personal work or just even think without having others come by and interrupt us.
Not only is this seen as us having a home for ourselves away from others but almost as also having a mental sanctuary. People will use physical or mental barriers in order to keep others from wherever theyre unwanted (424). When only one person or group claims the function of a space, the control is absolute, producing feelings of security. (424) This, is the largest factor in determining whether a group can endure weeks or months at this location; however, as we have seen it is not the only contributing factor.
The territory must be able to separated into private spaces for the occupants to maintain their own customization. Further more there must be an area to collect together, to allow fellowship to provide a sense of unity among the members. This is an example of where environmental psychology intertwines with social psychology (422). Sociology What is the advantage of a group as apposed to going it alone? No worries about what other people want, you can travel at your own pace, no arguments to worry about.
At first glance going alone seems like the simplest plan for survival. Nevertheless, this is rarely the case in movies. And the answer is not simply because more people increases dialogue and drama. People are social beings today for obvious benefits, but it has been part of a clear survival strategy that mankind has most likely always stuck to (485). There is obvious truth in the phrase strength in numbers. Later on, though, we will see that this physical strength my come at a cost. First, image a person who has just run into several other survivors.
The person my be excited to see others, but still skeptical in the back of their mind of the new strangers. If a person believes he or she can complete a task more easily if they are with others as opposed to if they were to go alone, the person will more than likely join or form their own group (Cialdini, 427). At first these people cannot just be considered a group. Given the situation, it can either be spoken amongst them, or simply implied by all running in the same direction. Whatever the means are, these people are making the decision to become a group then by their actions.
Groups become more unified though two means, first is the enjoyment of being with the other member in the group (rarely is that so in this situation) and the second option is based off of how committed all the members are to the specific task they are all gathered together to complete (423). The members have come together with the common goal of staying alive and are relying on the others to help increase their odds of staying safe. In spite of this, the ties to one another are still weak. Very little has been established between them, only the understanding that they are all using each other for survival.
Now assume that our hypothetical micro society has manages to get to safety in a suitable shelter. Once things begin to calm down then they will begin the normal group activities. If group size increases beyond a dyad or triad, a distinct leader will tent to step forward or be chosen by the members (Borgatta, 1118). Once this leadership role has been established tasks will often be assigned. Everyone is familiar with the basis types of conversation that is used to get to know someone. As we learn about a persons past we get to know them, building a sense of unity.
In small groups or micro societies an individual fuses into the group by having some of their common life and goals added to the groups (Benokraitis, 130). If this sense of common life is not shared by all then tensions begin to form. This is seen in Danny Boyles 28 Days Later when Jim and Selena do not share the same common goals with the soldiers of making the only woman (still alive) have sex with all the men in order to stay there. As a person can see, this scenario is very difficult to manage. In contrast to typical life; where you can look at a group, see if it suits you, and leave if it does not.
If the members are thrown together like this, there is no established group norm, making it very easy for one or more members to become unhappy with something going on. This potential for conflict increases with the number of members that enter the group. The ideal number of people is up to five or six people, this allows for easy communication and adaptation (Borgatta 1118). Stress After you have managed to paint your new bedroom, and you have won the Nobel Peace Prize for getting your group in line, you still have to deal with some other stresses.
But first let us begin with a quick understanding of stress. No situation is inherently stressful, but rather an individual must see the situation as involving threat, harm, loss, or challenge. (Levins 640) Obviously in a zombie apocalypse someone can expect there to be a large amount of stress surrounding them. When faced with stress a person undergoes a coping process to try and regain control of the situation. Psychological, emotional, or behavior reactions are provoked by any of three distinguished stressors. Cataclysmic events: such as volcano eruptions, floods, earthquakes (zombies apocalypse) etc.
Personal life events: illness, family or work issues Background conditions: traffic issues, access to services, noise or crowding. (Kazdin 429) All three of these types of stressors are clearly prevalent, and in fact, almost overwhelming in a zombie apocalypse. Between the dead attacking everyone, all of your loved ones dying, and all of the background conditions like noise and crowding becoming deafening, it is very simple for a person to not be able to handle everything that is going on. Luckily, in some sense, the body is actually prepared to deal with large amounts of stress at one time.
While this system is not perfect, it works better than say a computer that would just shut down if overloaded. If there are too many stressors for one individual they deal with an overloaded system by focusing on the task at hand or the ultimate goal that they are trying to achieve. This focus is actually very demanding of an individual and results in fatigue (Kazdin 424). This process can actually be useful in several scenarios to motivate a person in order to complete a task. Still, like everything, a person can still suffer from prolonged exposure to an overload of stress.
A person can deal with a great amount of stress, however if these stressors get to be overwhelming or the person is faced with a prolonged period of an overloaded system they could become delusional and even deny the distracting stimuli. If a person is pushed beyond their coping capacity the results could be worsened fatigue (430). This can be very problematic when someone is in such an issue where they cannot go outside. If they are left unattended and become convinced that the zombies are not an issue, they then put everyone at risk if they decided to leave.
While someone flat out denying the zombies outside is an extreme case of stress overload, they are many other potential issues that can arise much more easily. Being exposed to stress for too long or repeatedly can result in less tolerance to frustration, shorter attention span, and become less likely to adapt to a situation (Kazdin 429). These three effects are very detrimental to a community that is locked within walls, forced to interact with each other, and with little means to resolve their stresses.
While this may not be a group wide condition, these issues caused by stress are still a burden on the group even if only one person is suffering from them. In a group survival scenario being able to adapt to the conditions is key. The inhabitants need to be able to respond properly to any issue that may come about in a territory such as a fire or failing securities. In a similar fashion, it is just as important that frustration does not overwhelm a single person. Frustration is a mood that can easily be transferred from person to person.
This is typically the reasoning behind characters having such short tempers and snapping at each other at the climax of movies. This is the point where all their stress is building up to, the point where a group either manages to fix their issues and resolve things, or they collapse and succumb to their fate. Even with all the possible stresses that face a person, the social aspect still comes into play here. If someones alternative is to be alone, even without the zombie apocalypse, theyre less likely to leave a group and more willing to put up with stress or even a feeling of hopelessness (Kazdin 448).
By this point the members of the previously mentioned micro society have developed some level of bonds varying by the conditions and varying by each member. The members however will still look to the group for support and assistance during struggles with stress. If a member or several members of the group feel like they cannot be helped or that others will not help them they then fall into one of the lowest mental states. Hopelessness eventually sets in after repeated stress and disappointment on a person (Levinson 358) Alas, if a person reaches this point, they are unlikely to attempt to leave the group and go to another location.
By this point the most common way a person will leave the group is through suicide. Risk There is one final piece we need to look at in order to fully understand why a person will decide to leave where they are in search of someplace else. This final part of the equation is probably the biggest factor in determining whether people leave a group or simply stay and endure the conditions. This factor is the risk. If motivation explains why the individual takes the risk, what is it that allows the individual to overcome the fear, anxiety, and rational assessment of danger?
A 1997 study by Elissa Slanger and Kjell Rudestain identified perceived self-efficacy (a concept named and defined by Albert Bandura) as that element. Perceived self-efficacy is the belief that one can do what is required, that a challenge is within ones ability. This self assessment may or may not be accurate, because perception of effectiveness is partially independent from actual skill. A complete understanding of risk taking, then, is comprised of two considerations: motivation (be it sensation seeking or sensation seeking in concert with other factors) and whatever it is that allows the isinhibition necessary for a person to overcome the fear and take action. (Borgatta 602) That motivation mentioned above in our case is not sensation seeking, but rather our survivors seeking one of several things. Perhaps to be in a healthier environment; one in which they can act to fulfill higher needs and aspirations. Maybe it is to get away from the current social dynamics, look for another group with similar common life goals to theirs. Or, it could simply be that stress is building up on some people. They may feel their only escape from stress may be to escape everything and try to start again.
Any of these three alone, or combined, could act as the perfect catalyst in someones mind. To infect them with the idea as it fester and drives them to ultimately pick up whatever they can grab and head for the door. This may be a solo trip or including the entire group depending on the conditions. Our original survivor, along with a few of his buddies, will prepare themselves at the door. Gun and supplies in hand, one look back at the former home, former group, and former issues reassumes them of their plan as the door opens before them.