Implications for Behavioral Inhibition and Activation in Evacuation Scenarios: Applied Human Factors Analysis

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V. Wagner and K.W. Kallus and N.J. Neuhuber and M. Schwarz and H. Schrom-Feiertag and S. Ladstaetter, L. Paletta

Procedia Manufacturing, 6th International Conference on Applied Human Factors and Ergonomics (AHFE 2015) and Affiliated Conferences AHFW 2015 , 1/2015


In the case of evacuation events, human factors play an important role for the effective outcome of evacuations. Therefore, the design and organization of evacuation systems can be seen as crucial factor. Behavioral aspects of human beings in critical situations can be described considering the theory of behavioral inhibition and activation. Furthermore, the behavior of evacuation assistants may have a decisive role on evacuees behavior. In an experimental study it was investigated,
 how the appearance of an evacuation assistant influences the behavior and the emotional state of evacuees while acting in different conflict situations. A multi-dimensional approach was chosen to combine assessments of the subjective emotional state and objective psychophysiological responses of the study participants. Different conflict situations were assessed with 23 untrained volunteers. The results of the psychophysiological responses and the subjective assessments of the participants indicate a stronger activation of the behavioral inhibition system (BIS) under dangerous situation without an evacuation assistant than with an evacuation assistant. If a departing from the group of evacuees was required due to tasks, stronger activation of the behavioral activation system (BAS) was shown by persons who evacuated without evacuation assistant. Regarding the behavior of the evacuation assistant, the results strongly advise against the assignment of evacuation assistants that show unsafe occurrence and unsafe actions during the evacuation. Overall, the results give important indications to improve evacuation situations by avoiding critical situations in which persons tend to become unconfident and therefore become incapable of action.