Participants are Howard University undergraduates (data collection is ongoing). The data discussed here are part of a larger study; only a subset of variables will be discussed. On an electronic questionnaire, participants read five hypothetical natural disaster and severe weather scenarios each containing two actions that could be performed in the face of the threat: one protective action, such as evacuating, and one other action, such as staying behind to help others. For each scenario, participants are asked to indicate what barriers may hinder them from performing each action (e.g., not evacuating due to lack of transportation or money) and what they think will happen if they perform each action. Lastly, participants complete standard demographic items, including previous experience with each of the natural disasters and severe weather events. A content analysis will be performed to identify the most frequently cited and relevant barriers and outcome expectations.
This study is a precursor to examining the roles of barriers to action in individual’s self-protective decisions during severe weather events. It is imperative to first identify relevant barriers to action. Identifying these barriers is also practically important for emergency managers and government officials; this knowledge will help them improve disaster plans and increase the likelihood people will adhere to warnings issued during these events.