This study contributes to our understanding of why laid-off individuals might explore entrepreneurial careers. Findings among 838 laid-off individuals suggest that financial strain is associated with negative appraisal of the layoff, and openness to change and perceived organizational support are associated with positive appraisal of the layoff. We demonstrate that the indirect effect of financial impact and openness to change via negative and positive appraisals are stronger than the direct effects. Our results are significant because they highlight the mediating role of cognitive factors on entrepreneurial intentions among laid off individuals during periods of high unemployment.