Why People Make Poor Decisions During Zombie Apocalypses

Zombies are shambling into your hidden bunker, quick, what do you do?

If you’re like subjects of a new study, you bolt for the doorway you’re most familiar with, even if it’s the one chock-full of zombies.

Researchers at the ZombieLab (it’s a thing) presented 185 participants with a computer simulation showing a top-down view of a corridor and a room; two entry points connected them. In the first phase of the experiment, they directed their avatar into the room via the corridor. In the second phase, they had to evacuate the zombie-filled room back into the corridor.

Under normal conditions (aside from the zombies), participates showed no preference for either entry point. However, when stress was introduced in the form of a challenge to beat the fastest time, participates showed a greater than normal preference for the entry point they used in the first phase of the experiment, even if it was full of zombies and the other was relatively clear.

Of course, in real-life, non-zombie situations, people sometimes do something similar, crowding an exit that they’re familiar with and ignoring signs to other exits. So, next time you’re in a crowded room that needs to be evacuated speedily, take a second and eyeball all your egress points first; it could save you from the zombie hordes.

Photo courtesy of Bjoern Maletz

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