Collective Intelligence during Emergency Egress: The Mechanisms Underlying Altruistic Information Exchange

Hantao Zhao, Tyler Thrash, Fabian Schläfli, Mubbasir Kapadia, Leonel Aguilar, Dirk Helbing, Christoph Hölscher

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Understanding the human factors governing effective information exchange is increasingly indispensable for the design of day to day human-computer systems. Moreover, effective information exchange becomes a matter of life or death during emergency egress. The complexity of an unknown environment and the unpredictable locations of hazards often prevent evacuees from identifying safe routes. Successful evacuations from locations impacted by fire or earthquakes may depend on user-generated information to increase the chance of collective survival. The present paper employed multi-user virtual reality experiments and an online survey to investigate the mechanisms underlying social influence and collective intelligence during emergencies. Our results demonstrate that information sharing helps to reduce evacuation time and trajectory length. Participants also shared more when given incentives or when there was a lack of knowledge in the public information pool. This work provides further indications of how collective intelligence can be promoted and deployed during emergencies.

Original languageAmerican English
JournalInternational Journal of Human-Computer Interaction
StateAccepted/In press - 2022

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Human Factors and Ergonomics
  • Human-Computer Interaction
  • Computer Science Applications


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