A recent study has found that people take female-named hurricanes less seriously than the male branded counterparts.
I think it’s safe for me to say that hurricanes are scary. In fact, when I think about all the various ways that Mother Nature has devised to kill humans, I can think of few things scarier than a gigantic storm system ripping its way across 1the countryside. That being the case, there are apparently some ways to make a murder-storm seem less scary. For instance, you can give it a she-name instead of a he-name.
That, at least, are what the results of a recently published study suggest. The study, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States, sought to highlight “social science factors that predict responses to natural hazards.” The results found that female-named hurricanes routinely cause more deaths than their male counterparts, in part because people apparently take them less seriously when they’re given women’s names.
The study came to this conclusion by compiling data about hurricane related fatalities from 1950 up to 2012. The researchers asked the study’s participants to rate a historical storm’s damage based on its name. Then, after several other lab tests, they flat-out asked people they thought of female-named storms. Nearly half of the responses indicated that both men and women believed said storms to be less serious than their male branded counterparts.
Assuming the study’s results are accurate, this poses some problems when it comes to things like public safety. After all, you can issue all the storm warnings you want, but you can’t make someone seek safety if they’re under the impression an inbound hurricane won’t be a big deal because it’s named Fran instead of Dan. The irony is that hurricanes used to be given female names by default on account of their being especially unpredictable. The practice has since been discontinued (they alternate genders now), but it kind of flies in the face of female hurricanes being lesser entities.