Risk Analysis

Communicating Earthquake Preparedness: The Influence of Induced Mood, Perceived Risk, and Gain or Loss Frames on Homeowners’ Attitudes Toward General Precautionary Measures for Earthquakes

Journal Article

Abstract

Despite global efforts to reduce seismic risk, actual preparedness levels remain universally low. Although earthquake‐resistant building design is the most efficient way to decrease potential losses, its application is not a legal requirement across all earthquake‐prone countries and even if, often not strictly enforced. Risk communication encouraging homeowners to take precautionary measures is therefore an important means to enhance a country's earthquake resilience. Our study illustrates that specific interactions of mood, perceived risk, and frame type significantly affect homeowners’ attitudes toward general precautionary measures for earthquakes. The interdependencies of the variables mood, risk information, and frame type were tested in an experimental 2 × 2 × 2 design (N = 156). Only in combination and not on their own, these variables effectively influence attitudes toward general precautionary measures for earthquakes. The control variables gender, “trait anxiety” index, and alteration of perceived risk adjust the effect. Overall, the group with the strongest attitudes toward general precautionary actions for earthquakes are homeowners with induced negative mood who process high‐risk information and gain‐framed messages. However, the conditions comprising induced negative mood, low‐risk information and loss‐frame and induced positive mood, low‐risk information and gain‐framed messages both also significantly influence homeowners’ attitudes toward general precautionary measures for earthquakes. These results mostly confirm previous findings in the field of health communication. For practitioners, our study emphasizes that carefully compiled communication measures are a powerful means to encourage precautionary attitudes among homeowners, especially for those with an elevated perceived risk.

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