Individual previous experience with disaster and the link with risk perception and risk related behaviour


In the D4.1 (subchapter 3.2.2 - see source document for full reference) we specified that “previous experience” with a particular disaster is one of the best predictors of risk perception and risk related behaviour and most importantly it usually results in a more accurate risk judgment and more adaptive risk behaviour (i.e. increased number of preparedness activities; subchapter 3.2.2 and Discussion in D4.1 - see source document for full reference). Previous experience with a disaster can be understood as a one's own detailed illustration of a disaster, it equals having sufficient and reliable information about disaster useful for judging future risks. Risk communicators and disaster managers might try to mimic this factor by accurately informing citizens about risk, substituting it for those people without previous experiences. Studies have shown that in the absence of relevant information (i.e. analytic processes) people will rely on their affective processes when evaluating the situation (Pham, 1998). Hence, one way of managing citizens' emotions in the context of disasters is by providing them with timely and accurate information about the actual level of risk while coaching them about (1) preparedness activities they can apply to minimize the potential harm and (2) activities they should perform in the situation of a disaster (Helsloot & Ruitenberg, 2004). During a disaster, citizens will make the most optimal decisions if they have the most correct information and can very quickly recall it from their memory (Helsloot & Ruitenberg, 2004). We can say that timely and accurate risk communication represents an important way of “transforming” citizens' emotions into optimal (risk and disaster) behaviour.

Note: See source document for full reference.

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