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Imagining worse than reality: comparing beliefs and intentions between disaster evacuees and survey respondents

Reinhardt, Gina Yannitell (2017) 'Imagining worse than reality: comparing beliefs and intentions between disaster evacuees and survey respondents.' Journal of Risk Research, 20 (2). 169 - 194. ISSN 1366-9877

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Abstract

We often credit disasters, and their coverage in the media, with changes in the public perception of risk associated with low-probability, high-consequence events (LPHCs). With a change in perceptions, we also expect changes in beliefs, preferences, and behaviors. Do beliefs and behaviors change in different ways for people who live through these LPHC critical events, as opposed to people who observe them? This study compares hypothetical hurricanes with actual hurricane effects in a survey quasi-experiment. Findings indicate that hypothetical disasters induce stronger reactions than those experienced in the natural world, as Hurricane Katrina bystanders imagine themselves incurring much higher damages, and being much less likely to return to live in their hurricane-damaged homes, than actual Hurricane Katrina evacuees. Ultimately, respondents considering a hypothetical low-probability, high-consequence event exhibit exaggerated beliefs and opposite decisions of those who actually lived through one of these events. Results underline the importance of examining the differences between public perceptions and experiential reality.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: low-probability high-consequence events, disaster, survey experiment, risk perception, risk amplification
Subjects: H Social Sciences > H Social Sciences (General)
J Political Science > JA Political science (General)
Divisions: Faculty of Social Sciences > Government, Department of
Depositing User: Gina Reinhardt
Date Deposited: 08 Jan 2016 13:55
Last Modified: 28 Jun 2018 15:15
URI: http://repository.essex.ac.uk/id/eprint/15753

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