University of Twente Student Theses


A Report On Chernobyl Reports

Verschuur, W. (2013) A Report On Chernobyl Reports.

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Abstract:Not many of us have ever read, or will ever read, an entire official report about the 1986 Chernobyl disaster. Yet, many of us will be able to mention, for instance, that the disaster took place at a nuclear power plant in the Ukraine, which at that time was part of the Soviet Union. It is very likely that some of us will be able to recall consequences of the catastrophe, or even mention which causes ultimately led to a dangerous exposure to radiation in a wide area. Somehow, we have been informed about what happened on and around that unfortunate day in April 1986. Since the disaster, many different media have reported about 'Chernobyl': newspapers, television, journals, magazines and (more recently) the internet. The forms these media use to provide us with information are not nearly as extensive as an official report. Thus, what we know about the Chernobyl accident is based on information that is by definition a reduction of what really happened. This study was aimed at finding out more about this reduction. What does it look like? Does the reduction follow a certain pattern? Reports about the Chernobyl disaster were studied to answer these questions. A total of 62 articles (31 scientific and 31 non-scientific) were analysed, using a coding scheme. Some interesting results were found: (1) basic elements of a simple story (Story Grammar Theory (Thorndyke, 1977)) appeared in most of the articles, especially in non-scientific texts. (2) Non-scientific descriptions of the Chernobyl disaster were longer and more detailed. (3) The number of words, used to describe the disaster, diminished over time. (4) 'Human error' appeared more often in non-scientific literature. (5) In both scientific and non-scientific articles, the focus on 'sharp end' elements of the accident was seen, although more often in non-scientific work. (6) The existence of a certain 'gist' (Bartlett, 1932), appears to be likely. Elements that were mentioned in almost any text about the disaster were: 'Chernobyl', 'nuclear power plant', 'April 26, 1986', 'explosion' and a 'release of radiation'.
Item Type:Essay (Bachelor)
Faculty:BMS: Behavioural, Management and Social Sciences
Subject:77 psychology
Programme:Psychology BSc (56604)
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