Public response to fire alarms has been a major concern for decades. In particular, college dormitories pose a real threat for a catastrophic event if proper fire protocol is not carried out. Social influences may play a role in the decision dorm residents make when a fire alarm is sounded. More specifically, this research addresses to what degree does an authority figure, like a community advisor (CA), a friend, an unknown resident, or being alone, influence self-reported responses to fire alarms. Significant evidence was found confirming our hypothesis that participants in an alone condition reported being more likely to exit than participants in the presence of others while in their dorm room. In addition, we found that participants did not equally report a CA, a friend, or an unknown resident as having the same influence on their decision to exit or not to exit during an alarm. We found evidence that participants are significantly more likely to believe a dorm fire alarm is false as opposed to real, however we were unable to show a biased informational search via confirmation bias. Finally, two video clips of different fire situations were shown to participants to see if suggestion had an effect on intended behavior. The responses given to a video suggesting a "real alarm" did not significantly differ to the responses given to a video suggesting a "false alarm."


Emily Stark

First Committee Member

Daniel Sachau

Second Committee Member

Scott Fee

Date of Degree




Document Type



Master of Arts (MA)




Social and Behavioral Sciences

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 4.0 License



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