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Hashtagging Sandy: How are the psychological effects of natural disasters expressed in social media? Open Access

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In the wake of crisis, humans innately succumb to particular set of emotions, allowing psychologists to develop a pattern for their responses to trauma. While subjective, a general cycle of emotions can be broken down into three stages: anticipation, experience, and recovery. This study examines this traditional psychological theory and its application to current events through the October 2012 disaster, Hurricane Sandy, and how it was expressed through social media. Presenting the timeline of trending topics and hashtags as exhibits, the investigation asks: to what extent did social media act as an outlet to express the psychological effects of natural disasters? Using the psychological stages to trauma recovery, as described by Herman (2002), and Quarantelli and Dynes (1977), as methods, this study finds that a similar pattern of human response and cycle of emotions was captured on Twitter during Hurricane Sandy. During this computerized era, this investigation examines relevant information regarding the hybridization of traditional psychology and new technology.

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