Social attachment shapes emergency responses: Evidence from a postfire study

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Teng Shentu
Jianhong Ma
Yuchen Guo
Cite this article:  Shentu, T., Ma, J., & Guo, Y. (2018). Social attachment shapes emergency responses: Evidence from a postfire study. Social Behavior and Personality: An international journal, 46(1), 139-150.


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As an alternative to the classic mass panic model for explaining human behavior in emergency situations, we tested the social attachment model notion that emergency responses are influenced by not only perceived physical danger but also social factors, such as the presence of close others. Participants (N = 141) completed a postfire survey assessing perceived danger, presence of close others, group evacuation, emergency responses, and pre-evacuation time. Results showed that (1) individuals with close others tended to delay their evacuation and exhibit more affiliation behaviors; (2) when with close others, women (vs. men) were more likely to exhibit affiliation and less likely to exhibit helping behaviors; and (3) regardless of the presence of close others, helping behaviors were more likely to occur when the situation was perceived as more dangerous. Further exploration into gender norms and social identity is needed to develop a more comprehensive model of social attachment.

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