University of Tasmania
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Modelling community preparation for natural hazards: Understanding hazard cognitions

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posted on 2023-05-26, 01:36 authored by McIvor, DP
The present study adopts a mixed methods approach, integrating data from quantitative and qualitative studies, to examine the all-hazards validity of a model developed to predict adoption of hazard preparedness measures and to systematically elicit information regarding factors that influence decisions to adopt preparation activities to minimise the effects of natural hazards. The research focuses on how social and societal factors interact to influence the adoption of protective measures against the effects of natural hazards. The premise upon which the model is based argues that that it is not information per se that determines action, but how people interpret it in the context of experiences, beliefs and expectations that are developed and enacted in a social context. The quantitative analysis involves testing the Social Predictor Model of Intentions to Prepare for Natural Hazards (Paton, 2006) to assess the underlying social influences of intentions to prepare for both earthquakes and floods. Participants for this component of the study were from locations in New Zealand (Napier) and Australia (Benalla, Launceston, Ingham and Longford) that face high risk of exposure to earthquake and flooding hazards respectively. Findings demonstrated that the individual, community and institutional components of the model interact to influence people's intentions concerning the efficacy of adopting hazard mitigation strategies. These findings also support the applicability of the model for multiple hazards and across diverse locations. The qualitative component of the study used means-end chain theory (Gutman, 1982, 1997) to elicit more detailed information from participants regarding their decision making process regarding the adoption of preparation activities to minimise the effects of natural hazards. Interviewees were recruited from locations at risk of flooding and earthquakes in both New Zealand (Napier) and Australia (Benalla, Victoria and Launceston Tasmania). A major finding arising from the qualitative data was the distinction people made in the trust and distrust of civic emergency management authorities. These decisions were based on the relevance that people attached to information provided by these authorities. A further important finding was the motivating role of the responsibility that individuals felt towards the wellbeing of others. Individuals felt that it was an obligation on their part to render assistance to others. Overall, the findings indicate that facilitating sustained preparedness involves understanding how people construe the relationship between themselves, the hazard and the protective measures available to them and assisting their protective decision making within this socio-ecological context. Delivering hazard mitigation strategies thus involves engaging with community members in order to understand their needs and to render meaningful assistance in their decisions. It is when people believe that information relating to hazard mitigation is meaningful that these strategies will be attended to and adopted.


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Copyright 2010 the author

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