News & Media

Why do people wait & see?

By: Bushfire and Natural Hazards CRC

Category: Community Safety, Planning & Research

  1.49 PM 4 October, 2013

Location: General

Views: 2998

Different psychological processes between individuals drives decision making. What does this mean for residents who are threatened by bushfire? Why do they decide to evacuate, stay and defend or wait and see?

The Bushfire CRC's Fire Note 117 explains these different psychological processes.

The findings presented indicate that safety (family and individual) is the main driver for those who leave. Residents who stay and defend their property do so to protect their valued assets. Residents who wait and see when threatened by a bushfire do so because they fear making the wrong decision. Most residents surveyed who chose this option did not perceive the risks associated with this choice to be great. They did not want to leave unnecessarily and risk losing the house when they could have saved it had they stayed, and they did not want to be exposed to unnecessary danger when leaving.

Very few residents who stated they would either leave or wait and see indicated that they would leave early based on the predicted fire danger.

View this Fire Note, and all previous issues, at

Fire Notes are research summaries in easy to understand language from the Bushfire CRC, which is conducting research into the social, environmental and economic impacts of bushfires.

Last Updated: 04 October 2013