3.3 Exploring the Role of Conflicting Information on Severe Weather Risk Perception

Tuesday, 12 January 2016: 9:00 AM
Room 333-334 ( New Orleans Ernest N. Morial Convention Center)
Mark A. Casteel, Penn State Univ. York, York, PA

When faced with a severe weather event, a key goal of the weather warning community is to get a warning message distributed to the public that is easy to understand, unambiguous, and which urges specific action. Of course, one vexing problem is that the warning may be diluted or even contradicted by other sources of information that the message recipient may view as more authoritative, knowledgeable, or accurate. Given the ubiquitous nature of social media, disconfirming information can come from a variety of sources and through different channels. A compelling question, then, is how do these various sources of information influence perceptions of risk and the likelihood of taking protective action? Given the National Weather Service's (NWS) Weather Ready Nation initiative designed to improve the entire weather warning enterprise, it is important to understand how message recipients react to potentially conflicting information. In fact, the need to investigate the role of potentially disconfirming evidence was explicitly cited in the Final Report of the Workshop on Weather Ready Nation held in in Birmingham, Alabama in 2012. The research that I plan to report at the meeting, therefore, represents my initial attempt to assess the influence of conflicting weather warning information, with a special focus on tornadoes. Participants assessed a variety of risk attributes about the storm and the original warning message itself, as well as their likelihood of taking protection action. Sometimes, other potentially conflicting information was also presented, to see what (if any) influence the conflicting information had on the dependent measures. Implications of the results will be discussed, especially as they pertain to NWS best practices and the emerging next generation severe weather warning products.
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