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What Matters? Exploring Drivers of Basic and Complex Adjustments to Tornadoes among College Students

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  • 1 a College of Emergency Preparedness, Homeland Security and Cybersecurity, State University of New York at Albany, Albany, New York
  • | 2 b Department of Emergency Management and Disaster Science, University of North Texas, Denton, Texas
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Abstract

Scholars have produced several theories and models to explain why individuals adjust to hazards. While findings from these studies are informative, studies have not considered how threat and coping appraisals may have differential effects on varying types of hazard adjustments, or how these findings may generalize to vulnerable populations. This study expands on the protection motivation theory to explore the factors that shape hazard adjustment intentions among college students, a population traditionally defined as vulnerable, in response to tornado risk. An online survey was administered to college students (n = 377) at Oklahoma State University, situated in a region that experiences considerable tornado risk. While the correlations between threat appraisal and tornado hazard adjustment intentions are smaller than the correlations between coping appraisal and tornado hazard adjustment intentions, findings suggest that threat appraisals become more important for influencing college students’ adjustment intentions when adjustment activities are complex (e.g., tornado shelter, home insurance) rather than basic (e.g., flashlight, first-aid kit). This suggests that while both threat appraisals and coping appraisals are important for complex hazard adjustment intentions, basic hazard adjustment intentions are almost exclusively determined by coping appraisals. These findings have several practical implications for emergency management and provide new avenues for future hazard adjustment studies.

© 2021 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: David Huntsman, david.huntsman@okstate.edu

Abstract

Scholars have produced several theories and models to explain why individuals adjust to hazards. While findings from these studies are informative, studies have not considered how threat and coping appraisals may have differential effects on varying types of hazard adjustments, or how these findings may generalize to vulnerable populations. This study expands on the protection motivation theory to explore the factors that shape hazard adjustment intentions among college students, a population traditionally defined as vulnerable, in response to tornado risk. An online survey was administered to college students (n = 377) at Oklahoma State University, situated in a region that experiences considerable tornado risk. While the correlations between threat appraisal and tornado hazard adjustment intentions are smaller than the correlations between coping appraisal and tornado hazard adjustment intentions, findings suggest that threat appraisals become more important for influencing college students’ adjustment intentions when adjustment activities are complex (e.g., tornado shelter, home insurance) rather than basic (e.g., flashlight, first-aid kit). This suggests that while both threat appraisals and coping appraisals are important for complex hazard adjustment intentions, basic hazard adjustment intentions are almost exclusively determined by coping appraisals. These findings have several practical implications for emergency management and provide new avenues for future hazard adjustment studies.

© 2021 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: David Huntsman, david.huntsman@okstate.edu
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