Hero-making as a Defense against the Anxiety of Responsibility and Risk: A Case Study of US Airways Flight 1549

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review



By examining US Airways Flight 1549’s glider-like landing on New York
City’s Hudson River on 15 January 2009, this article contributes to a deeper
understanding of the psycho- and socio-analytic aspects of American culture.
Using system psychodynamics as a conceptual framework, the essay
uses this case study to demonstrate how individual psychology, group
dynamics, and systemic influences intertwined to tap a collective societal
need for a traditional male hero to salve the cultural disillusionment created
by corporate scandals, executive greed, job loss, and terrorist attacks in post-
9/11 America. Understanding how this phenomenon occurred helps us grapple
with psycho-cultural factors that favour searching for a saviour over
recognising collective responsibilities that encourage more collaborative
approaches to crisis decision making.


Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)59-78
JournalOrganisational & Social Dynamics
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2011


  • system psychodynamics , crisis decision making , heroes