A Theoretically Guided Exploration of the Public's Hurricane Message Perceptions and Communication Behaviors

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Monday, 3 February 2014
Hall C3 (The Georgia World Congress Center )
Julie L. Demuth, NCAR, Boulder, CO; and R. E. Morss, J. K. Lazo, H. Lazrus, and B. H. Morrow

Handout (1.3 MB)

When hazardous weather events threaten, the weather forecast and emergency management communities aim to provide useful information to members of the public to promote effective protective decision-making. People's protective responses are a function of several factors, including their individual characteristics, attitudes, perceptions, and the messages they receive. Thus, understanding relationships among these factors and how they influence people's behaviors is important for improving weather-related risk communication. The Extended Parallel Process Model (EPPM) and Risk Information Seeking and Processing (RISP) model are two risk theories that link such factors to people's message perceptions and communication behaviors, respectively. Commonly applied to study health and environmental risks, in this project we applied the models to study hurricane risks. We gathered data from a survey of coastal Florida residents who are at risk from hurricanes and storm surge. Respondents were randomly assigned to receive different risk messages about a hypothetical hurricane situation. Respondents were then asked about their cognitive and affective risk perceptions, perceived efficacy, information seeking and processing behaviors, perceptions of others' behaviors, and perceptions of the hurricane message content and sources. This poster will present a preliminary analysis, guided by the EPPM and RISP models, of how respondents' perceptions and communication behaviors are related to their characteristics and the different hypothetical risk messages received. Findings about these antecedents to people's protective responses can have important implications for risk communication and, more generally, people's lives and well-being during hazardous weather events.