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Erica D. Kuligowski


The human behavior in fire field is founded by and has deep roots within the field of fire protection engineering. Extensive research and efforts have been performed on the aspects of human behavior in fire that we can directly observe, including evacuation or movement dynamics, modeling of evacuation movement, and evacuation behaviors/actions and the observable factors that influence these actions. Additionally, our research has focused on independent performance of individual evacuees, with the assumption that the individual is only physically influenced by others, if at all. However, a smaller proportion of our research has been performed to identify the individual and group-level underlying processes that produce these observations. In this paper, I urge human behavior in fire researchers to expand our thinking to include expertise from the range of social science pursuits. I present two theories from the social sciences, specifically the field of social psychology, that would enable our field to expand our thinking and research into the “unobservable” aspects of human behavior in fire. Next, I include a discussion on how these theories would benefit fire protection engineering, particular our life safety analyses methods. Finally, I end the paper inquiring about next steps for our research and if we can expand even further into new and exciting areas within human behavior and fire.
Proceedings Title
6th International Symposium on Human Behaviour in Fire
Conference Dates
September 28-30, 2015
Conference Location


fire, human behavior, social psychology, decision-making


Kuligowski, E. (2015), BURNING DOWN THE SILOS: INTEGRATING NEW PERSPECTIVES FROM SOCIAL SCIENCE RESEARCH, 6th International Symposium on Human Behaviour in Fire , Cambridge, -1, [online], (Accessed November 29, 2023)
Created September 28, 2015, Updated February 19, 2017