2008 Joint Meeting of The Geological Society of America, Soil Science Society of America, American Society of Agronomy, Crop Science Society of America, Gulf Coast Association of Geological Societies with the Gulf Coast Section of SEPM

Paper No. 36
Presentation Time: 8:00 AM-6:00 PM

Integrating the Affective Domain into Community Outreach for Motivating Disaster Preparedness

GOWAN, Monica E., PO Box 7574, Rochester, MN 55903, KIRK, Ray, Health Sciences Centre, University of Canterbury, Private Bag 4800, Christchurch, 8140, New Zealand, JOHNSTON, David, Joint Centre for Disaster Research, GNS Science/Massey University, PO Box 30 368, Lower Hutt, 5040, New Zealand and RONAN, Kevin, Department of Behavioural & Social Sciences, Central Queensland University, Rockhampton, Queensland, 4702, Australia, monica.gowan@gmail.com

Science education and outreach in disaster contexts frequently seeks to heighten environmental awareness, with a focus on providing information about the nature of threats and types of vulnerabilities. These cognitive approaches are important since knowledge can enhance threat perception and risk interpretation. However, they often overlook subjective attitudinal barriers (e.g., “Do I want to think about disaster? Is there anything I believe I can do? Is there any true value to doing something?”), which can inhibit the motivation to prepare. For educators and advocates, finding messages that appeal to the audience is critical.

Like in the classroom setting, some of the best pedagogies for disaster preparedness may lie where educational messages align with audience interests and can help an individual self-organize their activities. We are testing a model of health and well-being (Antonovsky, 1987) as a mechanism to increase the intrinsic motivation for preparedness action and prevent adverse outcomes in the context of earthquake and tsunami risk in Wellington, New Zealand. Building on theories of self-determination, behavior change and health promotion, we are measuring the association between positive life orientation (“sense of coherence”) and positive preparedness attitudes and behaviors. This health sciences approach, which moves from “situational awareness” to “situation-liking” and focuses on strengths rather than vulnerabilities, may demonstrate new educational pathways and help build the field of trust between messengers and members of a community.

Our presentation here outlines key elements of our study design for examining the importance of attitude and taking a preventive health approach to disaster preparedness. Our goal is to contribute toward understanding what creates the volition to engage in small but potentially crucial activities that can positively influence a person's quality-of-life in the face of disaster.