Sandy Turns Northeast Into Mud-Strewn Hippie Lovefest, Says Science

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newyorkersaftersandyWell, maybe we shouldn't go that far. This is still the Northeast, where we prefer good, old-fashioned seething to all that peace-and-love stuff. This ain't California, y'know. Nonetheless, it's hard to deny that folks in Sandy's path have been hearting each other a bit more over the last few days.

And we're not just talking about volunteers trudging out to Staten Island or the Rockaways — artists have created uplifting messages on charity-raising shirts, or fashion icons have dropped millions in relief aid. From the five boroughs to the Jersey Shore, people are just being a bit...what's the word...nicer over the last few days. Hell, even the grinches of our local 1% have seen their hearts grow three sizes with an apparent outbreak of empathy.

It turns out there's a reason for all the (relative) schmoopiness. Researchers at the University of Freiburg, Germany, have discovered that when subjected to stress, individuals become increasingly cooperative, trusting, and, themselves, more trustworthy. Their study — conducted with men of all types — flies in the face of our typical understanding of the human fight-or-flight reactions to crisis.

Far from becoming cutthroat monsters, stressful situations make us more understanding, empathetic, and for loss of a better word, nice. Freshman-level application of evolutionary psychology would posit that such reactions have been essential in primitive times to the survival of a species. Seeing as most people in the Northeast were acutely aware of the overall crisis but not all were actually directly threatened by it (millions lost power, only thousands lost their homes), it shouldn't be much of a surprise that this goodwill would spill over.

See all you cynical New Yorkers and belligerent New Jerseyites — science has perfectly logical explanation for your changed attitude. Hopefully, we'll get a handle on the Sandy situation, this particular side effect will wear off, and we can go back to hating each other. (Scientific American)

Photo: Via Grey Area where you can buy one of Sebastian Errazuriz’s s "I Still Love New York" t-shits with 100% of profits going to hurricane relief.