Environmental Management

, Volume 61, Issue 6, pp 1002–1018 | Cite as

An Integrative Review of Empirical Research on Perceptions and Behaviors Related to Prescribed Burning and Wildfire in the United States

  • Lauren Nicole Dupéy
  • Jordan W. SmithEmail author


Social science research from a variety of disciplines has generated a collective understanding of how individuals prepare for, and respond to, the risks associated with prescribed burning and wildfire. We provide a systematic compilation, review, and quantification of dominant trends in this literature by collecting all empirical research conducted within the U.S. that has addressed perceptions and behaviors surrounding various aspects of prescribed burning and wildfire. We reviewed and quantified this literature using four thematic categories covering: (1) the theory and methods that have been used in previous research; (2) the psychosocial aspects of prescribed burning and wildfire that have been studied; (3) the biophysical characteristics of the fires which have been studied; and (4) the types of fire and management approaches that have been examined. Our integrative review builds on previous literature reviews on the subject by offering new insight on the dominant trends, underutilized approaches, and under-studied topics within each thematic category. For example, we found that a select set of theories (e.g., Protection Motivation Theory, Attribution Theory, etc.) and approaches (e.g., mixed-methods) have only been used sparingly in previous research, even though these theories and approaches can produce insightful results that can readily be implemented by fire-management professionals and decision makers. By identifying trends and gaps in the literature across the thematic categories, we were able to answer four questions that address how future research can make the greatest contribution to our understanding of perceptions and behaviors related to prescribed burning and wildfire.


Risk perceptions Mitigation behaviors Collaborative management Social theory Mixed-methods Integrative review 


Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of Interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Supplementary material

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Supplementary Material


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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Environment and SocietyUtah State UniversityLoganUSA

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