Barriers to earthquake preparedness: A risk representation approach

Meeting or Conference
Society for Earthquake and Civil Engineering Dynamics (SECED)
27 Nov 2013
United Kingdom (London)
Institution of Civil Engineers
Most research on people’s earthquake preparedness activity in highly seismic areas has assumed that low levels of preparedness are attributable to insufficient awareness of seismic risk. However, empirical evidence for this assumption is weak. Furthermore, there is growing appreciation of the role played by social, cultural and emotional variables in risk perception and behaviour. This study explores these socio-cultural and emotional dimensions via 144 interviews and questionnaires with matched samples of locals in Seattle (USA), Osaka (Japan) and Izmir (Turkey). The data shows that high awareness of possible seismic preparedness measures was not translated into behaviour, with all sites demonstrating low uptake of potential adjustments, though the North Americans adopted significantly more adjustments than the other cultures. Thematic analysis of the interview data suggests that adjustment behaviour is undermined by anxiety, distrust, distancing self from earthquake risk and fatalistic beliefs. These aspects have not traditionally been taken into account when designing programmes for the promotion of earthquake preparedness. Hence the talk concludes by recommending how culture-specific disaster mitigation plans may be developed to address these factors.

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For further informations please contact Greg James (tel. +44 02076652229).


Disaster Risk Management, Social Impacts & Social Resilience
United Kingdom
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