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Modelling community preparation for natural hazards: Understanding hazard cognitions


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McIvor, D 2010 , 'Modelling community preparation for natural hazards: Understanding hazard cognitions', PhD thesis, University of Tasmania.

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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
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.

Item Type: Thesis - PhD
Authors/Creators:McIvor, D
Keywords: natural hazards, earthquakes, floods, natural hazard preparation, social construction, community engagement, reasoning processes
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