Communication Factors Influencing Flood-Risk-Mitigation Motivation and Intention among College Students

Adam M. Rainear Department of Communication and Media, West Chester University of Pennsylvania, West Chester, Pennsylvania

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Carolyn A. Lin Department of Communication, University of Connecticut, Storrs, Connecticut

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Abstract

When attempting to communicate flood risk, trust in and perceptions toward risk information dissemination as well as individual efficacy factors can play a significant role in affecting risk-mitigation motivation and intention. This study seeks to examine how risk communication, risk perception, and efficacy factors affect evacuation motivation and behavioral intentions in response to a presumed flood risk, as based on a conceptual framework guided by protection motivation theory. An online survey was administered to college students (N = 239) from a region that is subject to sea level rise and storm surges. Path analysis results indicate that, while less information-source trust predicts greater risk perception, greater information-source trust predicts greater mitigation-information-seeking intention, lower self-efficacy, and stronger response efficacy. As lower mitigation-information-seeking intention similarly predicts greater risk perception, greater mitigation-information-seeking intention also predicts stronger response efficacy. Significant predictors of evacuation motivation include lower risk perception as well as greater information-source trust, severity perception, and response efficacy. Implications of these findings are discussed in terms of information dissemination channels, messaging strategies, and recent severe flooding events.

© 2020 American Meteorological Society. For information regarding reuse of this content and general copyright information, consult the AMS Copyright Policy (www.ametsoc.org/PUBSReuseLicenses).

Corresponding author: Adam M. Rainear, Ph.D., arainear@wcupa.edu

Abstract

When attempting to communicate flood risk, trust in and perceptions toward risk information dissemination as well as individual efficacy factors can play a significant role in affecting risk-mitigation motivation and intention. This study seeks to examine how risk communication, risk perception, and efficacy factors affect evacuation motivation and behavioral intentions in response to a presumed flood risk, as based on a conceptual framework guided by protection motivation theory. An online survey was administered to college students (N = 239) from a region that is subject to sea level rise and storm surges. Path analysis results indicate that, while less information-source trust predicts greater risk perception, greater information-source trust predicts greater mitigation-information-seeking intention, lower self-efficacy, and stronger response efficacy. As lower mitigation-information-seeking intention similarly predicts greater risk perception, greater mitigation-information-seeking intention also predicts stronger response efficacy. Significant predictors of evacuation motivation include lower risk perception as well as greater information-source trust, severity perception, and response efficacy. Implications of these findings are discussed in terms of information dissemination channels, messaging strategies, and recent severe flooding events.

© 2020 American Meteorological Society. For information regarding reuse of this content and general copyright information, consult the AMS Copyright Policy (www.ametsoc.org/PUBSReuseLicenses).

Corresponding author: Adam M. Rainear, Ph.D., arainear@wcupa.edu
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