Cities at Risk pp 109-130 | Cite as

North American Cities at Risk: Household Responses to Environmental Hazards

  • Michael Lindell
Part of the Advances in Natural and Technological Hazards Research book series (NTHR, volume 33)


This chapter updates Lindell and Perry’s (Environ Behav 32(4):590–630, 2000) review by summarizing the results of ten more recent North American studies on earthquake hazard adjustment and adding 16 studies on flood, hurricane, tornado, and volcano hazard adjustment. This research indicates that risk perceptions are consistently related to the adoption of hazard adjustments, but people’s perceptions of stakeholders and hazard adjustments are also relevant and deserve greater attention. There is considerable evidence that hazard experience increases hazard adjustment adoption, but hazard proximity and hazard intrusiveness also appear to play significant roles and should be a topic of additional research. Finally, demographic variables continue to be unreliable predictors of hazard adjustment adoption but should receive continuing attention to assess their effects on risk perceptions, stakeholder perceptions and hazard adjustment perceptions, as well as hazard experience, hazard proximity, and hazard intrusiveness.


Risk Perception Nonsignificant Correlation Nonsignificant Result Stakeholder Perception Adoption Intention 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



This work was supported by the National Science Foundation under Grants SES 0527699, SES 0838654, CMM-0826401, and Grant CMM-1138612. None of the conclusions expressed here necessarily reflect views other than those of the author.


  1. Arlikatti S, Lindell MK, Prater CS (2007) Perceived stakeholder role relationships and adoption of seismic hazard adjustments. Int J Mass Emerg Disaster 25(3):218–256Google Scholar
  2. Baker EJ (1991) Hurricane evacuation behaviour. Int J Mass Emerg Disaster 9(2):287–310Google Scholar
  3. Basolo V, Steinberg LJ, Burby RJ, Levine J, Cruz AM, Huang C (2009) The effects of confidence in government and information on perceived and actual preparedness for disasters. Environ Behav 41(3):338–364CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Blanchard-Boehm RD (1998) Understanding public response to increased risk from natural hazards: application of the hazards risk communication framework. Int J Mass Emerg Disaster 16(3):247–278Google Scholar
  5. Blanchard-Boehm RD, Cook MJ (2004) Risk communication and public education in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada on the 10th anniversary of the “Black Friday” tornado. Int Res Geogr Environ Educ 13(1):38–54CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Blanchard-Boehm RD, Berry KA, Showalter PS (2001) Should flood insurance be mandatory? Insights in the wake of the 1997 New Year’s Day flood in Reno–Sparks, Nevada. Appl Geogr 21(3):199–221CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Borenstein M, Hedges LV, Higgins JT, Rothstein HR (2009) Introduction to meta-analysis. Wiley, HobokenCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Burton I, Kates R, White GF (1993) The environment as hazard, 2nd edn. Guildford Press, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  9. CDRSS—Committee on Disaster Research in the Social Sciences (2006) Facing hazards and disasters: understanding human dimensions. National Academy of Sciences, Washington, DCGoogle Scholar
  10. Chaiken S (1987) The heuristic model of persuasion. In: Zanna M, Olson J, Herman C (eds) The Ontario symposium. Erlbaum, Hillsdale, pp 3–39Google Scholar
  11. Cohen J, Cohen P, West SG, Aiken LS (2003) Applied multiple regression/correlation analysis for the behavioral sciences, 3rd edn. Erlbaum, MahwahGoogle Scholar
  12. Drabek TE (1986) Human system responses to disaster: an inventory of sociological findings. Springer, New YorkCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Eagly AH, Chaiken S (1993) The psychology of attitudes. Harcourt Brace, Fort WorthGoogle Scholar
  14. Farley JE, Barlow HD, Finkelstein M, Riley L (1993) Earthquake hysteria before and after: a survey and follow-up on public response to the Browning forecast. Int J Mass Emerg Disaster 11(3):305–322Google Scholar
  15. Faupel CE, Kelley SP, Petee T (1992) The impact of disaster education on household preparedness for Hurricane Hugo. Int J Mass Emerg Disaster 10(1):5–24Google Scholar
  16. Federal Emergency Management Agency (2011) U.S. demographic shifts. Accessed 20 Apr 2012
  17. Fishbein M, Ajzen I (1975) Belief, attitude intention and behavior. Addison-Wesley, ReadingGoogle Scholar
  18. French JRP, Raven BH (1959) The bases of social power. In: Cartwright D (ed) Studies in social power. Institute for Social Research, Ann Arbor, pp 150–167Google Scholar
  19. Garcia EM (1989) Earthquake preparedness in California. Urb Resour 5(4):15–19Google Scholar
  20. Gladwin CH, Gladwin H, Peacock WG (2001) Modeling hurricane evacuation decisions with ethnographic methods. Int J Mass Emerg Disaster 19(2):117–143Google Scholar
  21. Godschalk D, Parham D, Porter D, Potapchuk W, Schukraft S (1994) Pulling together: a planning and development consensus building manual. Urban Land Institute, Washington, DCGoogle Scholar
  22. Heller K, Alexander D, Gatz M, Knight BG, Rose T (2005) Social and personal factors as predictors of earthquake preparation: the role of support provision, network discussion, negative affect, age, and education. J Appl Soc Psychol 35(2):399–422CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Jackson EL (1977) Public response to earthquake hazard. Calif Geol 30(12):278–280Google Scholar
  24. Jackson EL (1981) Response to earthquake hazard. Environ Behav 13(4):387–416CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Kim Y-C, Kang J (2010) Communication, neighbourhood belonging and household hurricane preparedness. Disasters 34(2):470–488CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Kramer RM (1999) Trust and distrust in organizations: emerging perspectives, enduring questions. Annu Rev Psychol 50:569–598CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Lang JT, Hallman WK (2005) Who does the public trust? The case of genetically modified food in the United States. Risk Anal 25(5):1241–1252CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Laska S (1990) Homeowner adaptation to flooding: an application of the general hazards coping theory. Environ Behav 22(3):320–357CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Lindell MK (1994) Perceived characteristics of environmental hazards. Int J Mass Emerg Disaster 12(3):303–326Google Scholar
  30. Lindell MK (2012) Response to environmental disasters. In: Clayton S (ed) Handbook of environmental and conservation psychology. Oxford University Press, New York, pp 391–413Google Scholar
  31. Lindell MK, Hwang SN (2008) Households’ perceived personal risk and responses in a multi-hazard environment. Risk Anal 28(2):539–556CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Lindell MK, Perry RW (1992) Behavioural foundations of community emergency planning. Hemisphere Press, Washington, DCGoogle Scholar
  33. Lindell MK, Perry RW (2000) Household adjustment to earthquake hazard: a review of research. Environ Behav 32(4):590–630CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Lindell MK, Perry RW (2004) Communicating environmental risk in multiethnic communities. Sage, Thousand OaksGoogle Scholar
  35. Lindell MK, Perry RW (2012) The protective action decision model: theoretical modifications and additional evidence. Risk Anal 32(4):616–632CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Lindell MK, Prater CS (2000) Household adoption of seismic hazard adjustments: a comparison of residents in two states. Int J Mass Emerg Disaster 18(2):317–338Google Scholar
  37. Lindell MK, Prater CS (2002) Risk area residents’ perceptions and adoption of seismic hazard adjustments. J Appl Soc Psychol 32(11):2377–2392CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Lindell MK, Prater CS (2003) Assessing community impacts of natural disasters. Nat Hazard Rev 4(4):176–185CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Lindell MK, Whitney DJ (2000) Correlates of household seismic hazard adjustment adoption. Risk Anal 20(1):13–25CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Lindell MK, Alesch D, Bolton PA, Greene MR, Larson LA, Lopes R, May PJ, Mulilis J-P, Nathe S, Nigg JM, Palm R, Pate P, Perry RW, Pine J, Tubbesing SK, Whitney DJ (1997) Adoption and implementation of hazard adjustments. Int J Mass Emerg Disaster Spec Issue 15(3):327–453Google Scholar
  41. Lindell MK, Prater CS, Perry RW (2006) Fundamentals of emergency management. Federal Emergency Management Agency Emergency Management Institute, Emmitsburg. Accessed 30 Mar 2012
  42. Lindell MK, Arlikatti S, Prater CS (2009) Why people do what they do to protect against earthquake risk: perceptions of hazard adjustment attributes. Risk Anal 29(8):1072–1088CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Mileti DS, Darlington J (1997) The role of searching in shaping reactions to earthquake risk information. Soc Probl 44(1):89–103CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Mileti DS, Peek L (2000) The social psychology of public response to warnings of a nuclear power plant accident. J Hazard Mater 75(2–3):181–194CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Mulilis JP, Duval TS (1997) The PrE model of coping with threat and tornado preparedness behavior: the moderating effects of felt responsibility. J Appl Soc Psychol 27(19):1750–1766CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Mulilis JP, Lippa R (1990) Behavioral change in earthquake preparedness due to negative threat appeals: a test of protection motivation theory. J Appl Soc Psychol 20(8):619–638CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Mullis JP, Duval TS, Rogers R (2003) The effect of a swarm of local tornados on tornado preparedness: a quasi-comparable cohort investigation. J Appl Soc Psychol 33(8):1716–1725CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. Nguyen LH, Shen H, Ershoff D, Afifi AA, Bourque LB (2006) Exploring the causal relationship between exposure to the 1994 Northridge Earthquake and pre- and post-earthquake preparedness activities. Earthq Spectra 22(3):569–587CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. NOAA—National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (2012) Weather ready nation: a vital conversation on tornadoes and severe weather. Accessed 5 May 2012
  50. Noji EK (1997) The nature of disaster: general characteristics and public health effects. In: Noji EK (ed) The public health consequences of disasters. Oxford University Press, New York, pp 3–20Google Scholar
  51. Norris FH, Smith T, Kaniasty K (1999) Revisiting the experience-behavior hypothesis: the effects of Hurricane Hugo on hazard preparedness and other self-protective acts. Basic Appl Soc Psychol 21(1):37–47Google Scholar
  52. Nunnally JC, Bernstein IH (1994) Psychometric theory, 3rd edn. McGraw-Hill, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  53. Palm R, Hodgson M, Blanchard R, Lyons D (1990) Earthquake insurance in California. Westview Press, BoulderGoogle Scholar
  54. Peacock WG (2003) Hurricane mitigation status and factors influencing mitigation status among Florida’s single-family homeowners. Nat Hazard Rev 4(3):149–158CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  55. Perry RW (1990) Volcanic hazard perceptions at Mt. Shasta. Environ Prof 12(4):312–318Google Scholar
  56. Perry RW, Lindell MK (1986) Source credibility in volcanic hazard information. Volcano News 22(12):7–10Google Scholar
  57. Perry RW, Lindell MK (1990) Predicting long term adjustment to volcano hazard. Int J Mass Emerg Disaster 8(2):117–136Google Scholar
  58. Perry RW, Lindell MK (2008) Volcanic risk perception and adjustment in a multi-hazard environment. J Volcanol Geotherm Res 172(3–4):170–178CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  59. Petty R, Cacioppo J (1986) The elaboration likelihood model of persuasion. In: Berkowitz L (ed) Advances in experimental social psychology. Academic, New York, pp 123–205Google Scholar
  60. Pijawka KD, Mushkatel AH (1991) Public opposition to the siting of the high-level nuclear waste repository: the importance of trust. Policy Stud Rev 10(4):180–194CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  61. Preston V, Taylor SM, Hedge DC (1983) Adjustment to natural and technological hazards: a study of an urban residential community. Environ Behav 15(2):143–164CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  62. Raven B (1965) Social influence and power. In: Steiner I, Fishbein M (eds) Current studies in social psychology. Holt, Rinehart and Winston, New York, pp 371–382Google Scholar
  63. Raven B (1993) The bases of power: origins and recent developments. J Soc Issues 49(4):227–251CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  64. Russell L, Goltz JD, Bourque LB (1995) Preparedness and hazard mitigation actions before and after two earthquakes. Environ Behav 27(6):744–770CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  65. Sattler DN, Kaiser CF, Hittner JB (2000) Disaster preparedness: relationships among prior experience, personal characteristics, and distress. J Appl Soc Psychol 30(7):1396–1420CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  66. Siegel JM, Shoaf KI, Afifi AA, Bourque LB (2003) Surviving two disasters: does reaction to the first predict response to the second? Environ Behav 35:637–654CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  67. Slovic P, Fischhoff B, Lichtenstein S (2001) Facts and fears: understanding perceived risk. In: Slovic P (ed) The perception of risk. Earthscan, London, pp 137–153Google Scholar
  68. Sorensen JH, White G (1980) Natural hazards: a cross cultural perspective. In: Altman I, Rapoport A, Wohlwill JF (eds) Human behavior and the environment: advances in theory and research. Plenum Press, New York, pp 89–95Google Scholar
  69. Terpstra T, Lindell MK (in press) Citizens’ perceptions of flood hazard adjustments: an application of the protective action decision model. Environ BehavGoogle Scholar
  70. Turner R, Nigg J, Heller-Paz D (1986) Waiting for disaster. University of California Press, Los AngelesGoogle Scholar
  71. Weinstein ND, Nicolich M (1993) Correct and incorrect interpretations of correlations between risk perceptions and risk behaviors. Health Psychol 12(3):235–245CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  72. Weinstein N, Lyon JE, Rothman AJ, Cuite CL (2000) Preoccupation and affect as predictors of protective action following natural disaster. Br J Health Psychol 5(4):351–363CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  73. Weyman AK, Pidgeon NF, Walls J, Horlick-Jones T (2006) Exploring comparative ratings and constituent facets of public trust in risk regulatory bodies and related stakeholder groups. J Risk Res 9(6):605–622CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  74. Whitney DJ, Lindell MK, Nguyen DH (2004) Earthquake beliefs and adoption of seismic hazard adjustments. Risk Anal 24(1):87–102CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  75. Wisner B, Blaikie P, Cannon T, Davis I (2004) At risk: natural hazards, people’s vulnerability and disasters, 2nd edn. Routledge, LondonGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Hazard Reduction and Recovery CenterTexas A&M UniversityCollege StationUSA

Personalised recommendations