Perceived Stakeholder Role Relationships and Adoption of Seismic Hazard Adjustments

November 2007 (VOL. 25, NO. 3)

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This study examined the relationships among perceived stakeholder characteristics, risk perceptions, respondent characteristics, and self-reported adoption of 16 seismic hazard adjustments by residents in areas of high and medium seismic risk. Seven stakeholder types, ranging from the federal government to the respondents themselves, were rated on three characteristics-seismic hazard knowledge, trustworthiness, and responsibility for taking action to protect households. Respondents rated their hazard knowledge as higher than that of peers, indicating optimistic bias. However, they also rated their hazard knowledge as lower than that of authorities and the news media-confirming that there are limits to optimistic bias. Partial correlation analyses indicated that perceived stakeholder characteristics influenced hazard adjustment by both central and peripheral routes to behavioral change. Paradoxically, respondents’ adoption of hazard adjustments was more strongly correlated with the perceived characteristics of peers, even though these were rated lower on hazard knowledge, trustworthiness, and protection responsibility. Although the effects were marginally significant, perceived stakeholder characteristics were related to respondents’ characteristics (location, gender, and ethnicity). This suggests risk communicators should consider tailoring their choice of sources as well as the content of their messages to different audience segments.