Federal and local emergency management agencies and policymakers often ask: Why do individuals refuse to leave their homes when emergency evacuations are mandated during life-threatening natural disasters? In three experimental studies, the current research establishes that during a natural disaster, individuals become aware of their mortality. Existential anxiety is high and a need for control is instantiated. This makes following the directive to evacuate relatively less appealing. If, however, individuals can meet their need for control while in the process of making the evacuation decision (e.g., choice of shelter), the likelihood of evacuating increases. In light of increasing concerns related to global climate change, terrorist threats, pandemics, and other natural disasters, calls for more interdisciplinary work in understanding human decision-making in emergency situations have been made. The current work has timely implications for emergency management agencies, policymakers, and those required to communicate during natural disasters.
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