Natural Hazards

, Volume 80, Issue 1, pp 249–283 | Cite as

Human behaviour during and immediately following earthquake shaking: developing a methodological approach for analysing video footage

  • Emily Lambie
  • Thomas M. WilsonEmail author
  • David M. Johnston
  • Steven Jensen
  • Erik Brogt
  • Emma E. H. Doyle
  • Michael K. Lindell
  • William S. Helton
Original Paper


To reduce earthquake casualties, it is important to understand how human behaviour, during and immediately following earthquake shaking, exposes the individual to increased risk of injury. Research on human behaviour during earthquake shaking has identified three main influences: the environment the individual is located in immediately before and during the earthquake, in terms of where the individual is and who the individual is with at the time of the earthquake; individual characteristics, such as age, gender, previous earthquake experience and earthquake attributes, including intensity and duration of earthquake shaking. However, little research has systematically analysed the immediate human responses to earthquake shaking, mostly due to data constraints and/or ethical considerations. Research on human behaviour during earthquakes has relied on simulations or post-event, reflective interviews and questionnaire studies. Such studies are subject to potential limitations such as the quality of the participant’s memory, recall bias or (perceived) realism of a simulation. Thus, to better understand the relationship between human behaviour and injury, researchers need a robust and repeatable methodology. This paper discusses the development of a systematic process and coding scheme to analyse earthquake video footage of human behaviour during strong earthquake shaking. The coding scheme was developed in a two-part process, combining a deductive and inductive approach. Previous research studies of human behavioural response during earthquake shaking provided the basis for the coding scheme. This was then iteratively refined by applying the coding scheme to a broad range of video footage of people exposed to strong shaking during the Canterbury 2010–2011 earthquake sequence.


Earthquake Behavioural response Casualties Observational data 



We are grateful to Dr. Valerie Sotardi who performed inter-reliability testing for this research group and would like to acknowledge the help of her discussion and perspective which improved the content of this manuscript. We thank the two anonymous reviewers for excellent comments and reviews that have improved the manuscript. We greatly acknowledge funding support from GNS Science core funding as part of SIH project, the University of Canterbury Natural Hazard Research Platform contract C05X0804 and the University of Canterbury Mason Trust.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Emily Lambie
    • 1
  • Thomas M. Wilson
    • 2
    Email author
  • David M. Johnston
    • 1
  • Steven Jensen
    • 3
  • Erik Brogt
    • 4
  • Emma E. H. Doyle
    • 1
  • Michael K. Lindell
    • 5
  • William S. Helton
    • 6
  1. 1.Joint Centre for Disaster ResearchMassey University/GNS ScienceWellingtonNew Zealand
  2. 2.Geological SciencesUniversity of CanterburyChristchurchNew Zealand
  3. 3.California State UniversityLong BeachUSA
  4. 4.Academic Services GroupUniversity of CanterburyChristchurchNew Zealand
  5. 5.University of WashingtonSeattleUSA
  6. 6.PsychologyUniversity of CanterburyChristchurchNew Zealand

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