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Acta Psychologica Sinica    2013, Vol. 45 Issue (9) : 993-1003     DOI: 10.3724/SP.J.1041.2013.00993
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Escape Decision-Making under Real Fire and Simulated Fire Conditions
LI Hong;GAO Yang
(Department of Psychology, Tsinghua University, Beijing, 100084, China)
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Abstract  

The present research aims to explore the effects of condition and memory on escape decision-making. Based on Sayegh et al.’s (2004) intuitive decision-making model and other related research findings, we assume that previous learning and the related memory would influence escape decision-making under crisis condition, and escape decision-making would be different under real fire and simulated fire conditions. We conducted a preliminary training and two main studies to test our hypothesis. We recruited mice rather than human-beings as participants, because it is dangerous to examine human reactions in real fire conditions. Previous research suggested that rodents show similar stressful reactions as humans when encountering crisis (Davis & Whalen, 2000; Lang et al., 2000). Moreover, rodents share almost the same escape behaviors with humans under crisis (Parr & Gothard, 2007). We used a 3 (condition: real fire, simulated fire, common) × 2 (memory: remembered and forgotten) mixed design, and tested a total of 96 mice in the study. Among them, 72 received the preliminary training and 24 served as the control group which did not receive the training. Each of the two main studies included 24 mice, and the remaining 24 mice received the forgetting treatment. The 24 mice in each study were randomly and equally arranged into the three conditions (real fire, simulated fire and common), and the 24 mice of the control group are also arranged into such three conditions. The dependent variables for the two main studies are escape time and exit choices. Escape time is used because time or speed is the key in defining intuition and in distinguishing between intuitive and analytical decision-making (Bargh, 1994; Betsch, 2008; Sadler-Smith, 2008). While exit choice is treated as another indicator because finding an exit is crucial for escape decisions (Altshuler et al., 2005; Helbing et al., 2000). Choosing the familiar exit shows the effect of learning and memory. In study one, escape time was examined when only the familiar exit is available (exit1 or 2). If escape time of the experimental groups after training was not significantly different from the memory baseline or even shorter, it would suggest the automatic retrieval from the memory (e.g., Bargh & Chartrand, 1999; Dijksterhuis & Nordgren, 2006), which is an essential character of associative intuition (Glockner & Witteman, 2010). If escape time of the experimental groups after forgetting was still significantly shorter than that of the control group, it could suggest that forgetting happened only at the conscious level. Retrieval from unconsciousness is no doubt an automatic retrieval process (Dijksterhuis & Nordgren, 2006). In study two, exit choices were examined when the familiar and unfamiliar exits are both available (exit 1 and 2). It is assumed that if the mice choose familiar but smoky exit rather than unfamiliar but non-smoky exit, it would suggest the effect of learning and memory. After forgetting, if the mice still tended to choose the familiar exit, it would suggest the automatic retrieval from the unconscious, and therefore it is intuitive decision-making. The main findings are: (1) Escape time before forgetting under real fire condition is significantly shorter than the memory baseline, and also significantly shorter than that under simulated fire condition. (2) Escape time of mice under the three conditions is all significantly shorter than that of the control group. (3) When both the familiar and unfamiliar exits are opened and the familiar exit is in smoke, real fire group tends to choose the familiar exit, whereas the other two groups prefer to choose the unfamiliar exit. In conclusion, there is significant difference of the decision-making under real fire and simulated fire conditions. Mice under real fire conditions tend to adopt intuitive decision-making, whereas under simulated fire condition they do not prefer intuitive decision-making.

Keywords real fire      simulated fire      escape decision-making      intuition      memory     
Corresponding Authors: LI Hong   
Issue Date: 25 September 2013
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Cite this article:   
LI Hong;GAO Yang. Escape Decision-Making under Real Fire and Simulated Fire Conditions[J]. Acta Psychologica Sinica,2013, 45(9): 993-1003.
URL:  
http://journal.psych.ac.cn/xlxb/EN/10.3724/SP.J.1041.2013.00993     OR     http://journal.psych.ac.cn/xlxb/EN/Y2013/V45/I9/993
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