Wang, Yan, Zhi & Jiang conducted a research in 2016 to investigate psychological behaviors of individuals in an emergency subway evacuation. This is after existing prior research did not distinguish the real cause of panic in subway emergency evacuations, i.e., whether it is the level of education, gender or the design of subway in emergency evacuations. The research in the form of a field survey involved handing out questionnaires to random people of all ages using a subway station at Nanjing, China. The researchers wanted to find out the effect of gender, level of education and carrying of luggage on panic behaviors and psychology.
Wang et al. designed the questionnaire in a way that it consisted of two parts. The first part was to find out the basic information about a person, i.e., a person's gender, age, level of education, personality, the frequency of using the subway, knowledge of subway safety and experience in a subway accident. The second part of the questionnaire was aimed at establishing psychological behaviors of random people during an emergency evacuation. The research adhered to ethical considerations in psychological research as the human subjects were notified of the research and treated as autonomous agents after that.
Based on a response rate of 94% which was fairly effective, the researchers after analyzing the collected data using SPSS Statistics software established several interesting results. First, the number of males that participated in the research was slightly higher than that of females by 2.2%. Most of the respondents were less than forty years of age (96.5%) with the majority of them possessing a college degree or higher (above 95%). Regarding ever experiencing an emergency in a subway or any knowledge on subway safety, most of the respondents gave a negative had never experienced either.
Secondly, Wang et al. found out that most of the respondents' first psychological reaction would be panicking, worrying and herding when evacuated from subway emergencies. A small number (21%) would stay calm during an emergency evacuation in a subway. The results also indicated that some of the respondents would have fluky psychological behavior as they would stick around to explore emergency situations or events as indicated by their responses. The results further indicated that emergency exit signs would be essential in allowing emergency victims escape in an emergency if only they are familiar with the subway. Most respondents indicated that they would trust the subway staff in evacuating them if only they are unfamiliar with the subway.
The researchers also established that the first physiological and behavioral reaction in an evacuation would be to escape due to an evacuation panic based on the responses. A significant number of people responded that they would suffer panic and anxiety during an emergency evacuation while only a third responded that they would remain calm but this would be difficult to prove. Wang et al. established that a non-adaptive evacuation behavior would occur if an emergency evacuation is carried out due panic as indicated by many of the respondents. What would happen when a person falls on an escape route? Interestingly most of the respondents would avoid them with 47% of the respondents helping them thereby avoiding tumble accidents. In case of emergency evacuation in a subway, most respondents would prefer to dispose of or abandon their stuff to flee swiftly as indicated by the results. Anxiety during emergency evacuations is also increased when carrying luggage. Individual panic increases about the panic in the crowd being evacuated from a subway emergency.
The researchers concluded that gender, level of education and carrying luggage had significant effects on psychological evacuation behavior of individuals. Women were found to be more affected by the surrounding panicking crowd as compared to men. Additionally, it was evident from the results that women while facing emergencies would panic and herd as their first psychological reaction which is not the case in most men. Women panic more in emergencies as compared to men. Individuals with higher levels of education would panic more in emergency evacuations as compared low, learned individuals. Regarding carrying luggage, it was established that it increases panic and worry in individuals in emergency evacuations. The study also established that the age of respondents and knowledge on subway safety did not have any significant effect on psychological behaviors during emergency evacuations.
In analyzing this research article, we note that the research concerns how gender, level of education and carrying luggage influences psychological behaviors during an emergency evacuation in a subway. The researcher used questionnaires in sourcing for research data. The research took place at a subway station in Nanjing, China and involved random sampling of the research subjects. The researchers employ nonprobability sampling since the research samples were randomly picked to represent the whole population.
From the research, the dependent variable is the psychological behavior of the test subjects while the independent variable is each question in the questionnaire. The researchers used Pearson Chi-square test to check the relationship between dependent and independent variables by using a constant of 0.05. Perhaps the most complicated and difficult variable to determine in this research article was the t independent variable as there isn't a standard measure of gender which is a non-numerical value. Sources of errors in the research would be due to wrong responses from the test subjects, wrong sampling or statistical errors which can be avoided.
One can argue that the findings of this research may not be accurate in correlating the influence of gender, level of education and carrying luggage on psychological behaviors of individuals evacuated from an emergency in a subway as the test sample originated from a small geographical rather from different regions or countries. Additionally, the test sample (141 individuals) and scope were so low to guarantee accurate results. Other feature research based on this topic should, therefore, increase the test sample and scope and sample research subjects from different regions of the globe rather than one geographical area.
J. Wang, W. Yan, Y. Zhi & J. Jiang (2016)" Investigation of the panic psychology and behaviours of evacuation crowds in subway emergencies" Procedia Engineering V 135, pp 128-137.
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