Studies from a variety of disciplines reveal that humor can be a useful method to reduce stress and increase compassion, connection, and empathy between agencies and people they serve during times of crisis. Despite this growing evidence base, humor's use during a geohazard (earthquake, volcanoes, landslides, and tsunami) to aid scientific agencies' crisis communication response has been rarely studied. A broad literature review of humor in crisis and an exploratory examination of several case studies reveal that scientific organizations, specifically those that respond to geohazards, can harness the power of humor to help create connection and empathy with the publics they seek to serve. We find evidence that supports our argument that the use of humor acknowledges a shared human experience, reducing the barriers between public officials, scientists, and the people most impacted by crisis. Public statements made by scientists and public officials during the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) response to the Kīlauea eruption in 2018 in Hawai'i, United States, and GNS Science/GeoNet (GeoNet) response to the M7.8 Kaikōura/North Hurunui earthquake in 2016 in Aotearoa New Zealand, are used to inform the development of this conceptual model. We then posit a conceptual model which unifies concepts from the literature with our case studies to provide potential guidelines for those crisis communicators working for science agencies on how best to use humor to help people cope during times of crisis. This model can be further tested for future research to determine its effectiveness and utility for scientific agencies responding to geological crises.
|Title||#TheSmoreYouKnow and #emergencycute: A conceptual model on the use of humor by science agencies during crisis to create connection, empathy, and compassion|
|Authors||Sara McBride, Jessica L. Ball|
|Publication Subtype||Journal Article|
|Series Title||International Journal of Disaster Risk Reduction|
|Record Source||USGS Publications Warehouse|
|USGS Organization||Earthquake Science Center; Volcano Science Center|
Jessica L Ball, Ph.D.
Jessica L Ball, Ph.D.