Increasingly, the risk assessment community has recognized the social and cultural aspects of vulnerability to hurricanes and other hazards that impact planning and public communication. How individuals and communities understand and react to natural hazard risk communications can be driven by a number of different cognitive, cultural, economic, and political factors. The social sciences have seen an increased focus over the last decade on studying hurricane understanding and responses from a social, cognitive, or decision science perspective, which, broadly defined, includes a number of disparate fields. This paper is a cross-disciplinary and critical review of those efforts as they are relevant to hurricane risk communication development. We focus on two areas that, on the basis of a comprehensive literature review and discussions with experts in the field, have received comparatively little attention from the hazards community: 1) research concerning visual communications and the way in which individuals process, understand, and make decisions regarding them and 2) the way in which vulnerable communities understand and interact with hurricane warning communications. We go on to suggest areas that merit increased research and draw lessons or guidance from the broader hazards/social science research realm that has implications for hurricane planning and risk communication, particularly the development and dissemination of hurricane forecast products.

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