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Jessica Collett, University of California-Los Angeles
Interpreting physiological responses is a key part of emotional experience. Imagine a father who tells a child about to start kindergarten that what they describe as feeling sick is actually a sign of nervous excitement—what some call butterflies—and not illness. His emotional vocabulary, combined with an understanding of situational cues, help him interpret his child’s experience (and stops him from searching for the pediatrician’s number).
Charles Perrow described the 1979 Three Mile Island nuclear reactor meltdown as a Normal Accident. Normal accidents are a class of events produced when subsystems in risky, complex and tightly coupled systems fail. Tight linkages between subsystems propagate failure, and local breakdowns cascade into systemic collapse. Diane Vaughn applied the normal accident metaphor to the 1986 Challenger Disaster.