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A Review of Risk Perception in Building Fire Evacuation



Max Kinateder, Erica D. Kuligowski, Paul A. Reneke, Richard Peacock


Risk perception (RP) is studied in many research disciplines (e.g., safety engineering, psychology, and sociology), and the context in which RP is studied varies greatly. Definitions of RP can be broadly divided into expectancy- value and risk-as-feeling approaches. RP is seen as the personalization of the risk related to a current event, such as an ongoing fire emergency, and is influenced by emotions and prone to cognitive biases. The present article is a literature review that differentiates RP from other related concepts (e.g., situation awareness) and introduces theoretical frameworks (e.g., Protective Action Decision Model and Heuristic-Systematic approaches) relevant to RP in fire evacuation as distinct from other related fields of research Furthermore, this paper reviews studies on RP during evacuation, especially on the World Trade Center evacuation on September 11, 2001. It discusses factors modulating RP, as well as the relation between RP and protective actions. This paper concludes with a summary of the factors that influence risk perception and the direction of these relationships (i.e., positive or negative influence, or inconsequential), the limitations of this review, and an outlook on future research.
Technical Note (NIST TN) - 1840
Report Number


egress, evacuation modeling, fire safety, human behavior, human factors, risk perception


Kinateder, M. , Kuligowski, E. , Reneke, P. and Peacock, R. (2014), A Review of Risk Perception in Building Fire Evacuation, Technical Note (NIST TN), National Institute of Standards and Technology, Gaithersburg, MD, [online], (Accessed February 29, 2024)
Created September 24, 2014, Updated October 12, 2021