One might be tempted to think that the Yankees’ musical tribute to the loathed Red Sox the day after April’s Boston Marathon bombings was an act of basic human decency. But there’s actually more to it than that, said Northeastern University psychology professor David DeSteno at Monday’s The City Resilient conference in Brooklyn. And the episode points to a capacity for “nudging compassion” that can be a key to building urban areas that bounce back from tragedy, be it a bombing or natural disaster.
What happened, DeSteno suggested, is that an incident of the emotional magnitude of the Boston attacks prompted people to focus on what they shared. “By categorizing themselves as fans of baseball, and not fans of the Yankees or the Red Sox,” he said, “we actually heard ‘Sweet Caroline’ play at Yankee Stadium, which doesn’t happen very often” — here, the New York crowd laughed — “because that’s the Red Sox theme song.”