In the beginning of May, for our Human Behaviour class, we did an evacuation experiment. We were divided into groups, and each group had a task to do. The coordinating group organized the experiment, then there was a group operating the smoke machine, one that tried to create panic and then one that was supposed to just stay in one place to observe and to see if anyone would warn them to get out.
We did the experiment in the economics building at Lund University. After lunch time, when there were three lectures going on, and there were some people studying in the hall, we activated the smoke machine, and before the alarm started to sound, a person from the “panic group” went into the lecture halls and told everybody to leave. Once people left the classrooms, they saw the smoke and started to go to the emergency exits. While the alarm sounded, everybody was evacuating, and someone even tried to extinguish the fire, guided by one of our “actors”. A lecturer and some students also told our “actors”, who were sitting in the entrance hall pretending nothing was happening, to evacuate the building.
Once everybody had gone out of the building, we told them it was an experiment and we gave out some questionnaires to see if it was easy for them to evacuate or if they had encountered any difficulties.
Overall, it was a great experience for us, and we got to see some Human Behaviour theories in action.