Why do people prepare for natural hazards? Developing and testing a Theory of Planned Behaviour approach

Thumbnail Image
Open Access Location
Journal Title
Journal ISSN
Volume Title
Elsevier B.V.
(c) The author/s
Natural hazards such as earthquakes and tsunami can have adverse impacts on infrastructures and populations globally. In Wellington, New Zealand, perception of these risks is high but many people are poorly prepared. Using the Theory of Planned Behaviour in a pre-registered longitudinal study, we assessed intentions, cognitions, and beliefs about the behaviour of preparing for natural hazards at Time 1 (N= 153) and self-reported behaviour one month later with 61 participants from the sample at Time 2. Experiential attitudes, instrumental attitudes, self-efficacy, and perceived descriptive norms explained approximately 34% of the variance in intentions, which in turn predicted preparation for natural hazards, although confidence in this result is qualified by the small sample size. Further, this study identified several key beliefs related to preparing, such as the belief that preparing helps people to get through a natural hazard event better, that people can make the effort to prepare, and that preparing can be fun and rewarding. These beliefs offer specific and tangible factors which can be efficiently addressed in public education campaigns. Secondly, this study addressed a number of common methodological limitations in how the Theory of Planned Behaviour is conceptualised, applied, and measured, by incorporating consistent inclusion of constructs and belief measures and coherence between measures of intentions and behaviour. This research supports the implementation of the two-factor distinction, splitting attitudes into instrumental and experiential, social norms into descriptive and injunctive, and perceived behavioural control into controllability and self-efficacy as well as including the belief measures which indirectly explain intentions. The Theory of Planned Behaviour has a long history of beneficial applications to a variety of behaviours, but the recommendations made here for future use aim to improve the usefulness of the theory in research beyond natural hazards, including comparisons of findings between studies.
Vinnell LJ, Milfont TL, McClure J. (2021). Why do people prepare for natural hazards? Developing and testing a Theory of Planned Behaviour approach. Current Research in Ecological and Social Psychology. 2.