We conducted a computer-based experiment with over 450 human participants and used a Bayesian model selection approach to explore dynamic exit route choice mechanisms of individuals in simulated crowd evacuations. In contrast to previous work, we explicitly explore the use of time-dependent and time-independent information in decision-making. Our findings suggest that participants tended to base their exit choices on time-dependent information, such as differences in queue lengths and queue speeds at exits rather than on time-independent information, such as differences in exit widths or exit route length. We found weak support for similar decision-making mechanisms under a stress-inducing experimental treatment. However, under this treatment participants were less able or willing to adjust their original exit choice in the course of the evacuation. Our experiment is not a direct test of behaviour in real evacuations, but it does highlight the role different types of information and stress play in real human decision-making in a virtual environment. Our findings may be useful in identifying topics for future study on real human crowd movements or for developing more realistic agent-based simulations.
Bode, N., Kemloh Wagoum, A. U., & Codling, E. (2015). Information use by humans during dynamic route choice in virtual crowd evacuations. Royal Society Open Science, 2, . https://doi.org/10.1098/rsos.140410