Public cognition and response to earthquake disaster: from the 2008 Mw7.9 Wenchuan to the 2013 Mw6.6 Lushan earthquakes in Sichuan Province, China

Abstract

China is one of the countries most affected by earthquakes. Improving public cognition and response to earthquake disaster (EDCR) is an effective means to reduce seismic risk and losses. The 2013 Lushan earthquake area was also stricken by the 2008 Wenchuan earthquake. Most of the residents in this area have been affected by both earthquakes, which provides a rare opportunity to gain insight into the interaction between public’s EDCR and their earthquake disaster experience. Using a questionnaire survey on over 200 local residents selected by stratified sampling method, this paper investigates the public’s cognition and response capability with regard to earthquake disaster in the 2013 Mw6.6 Lushan earthquake area, Sichuan Province, China, with a particular emphasis on exploration on the relationship between people’s earthquake disaster experience and their disaster cognition and response behaviors. The results show that the overall EDCR level of local residents is moderate—their average cognition and response score for earthquake disaster is only 0.60. The number of earthquakes experienced, education, and family income level are the three most important factors that significantly impact an individual’s overall EDCR capability. Those who have experienced more earthquakes better adapt to the impacts of disaster. Especially, the experience learned from the 2008 Mw7.9 Wenchuan earthquake played a positive role in the cognition and response of the public to the 2013 Lushan earthquake. In addition, people with higher education could master more knowledge of earthquake disaster and better control their emotions. Similarly, respondents with a higher family income had more resources and ways to engage in more reasonable response behaviors to manage disaster effects. Based on these findings, it is suggested that local policy-makers implement targeted earthquake disaster education and knowledge dissemination strategies, especially develop and expand various experiential learning modes (e.g., emergency exercise/drilling, situational learning, virtual reality, scenario approach, safety/disaster experience center, participatory activities) for the local public and beyond to more effectively strengthen their cognition of disaster and response capability.

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Data availability

The data are available by contacting the corresponding author.

Notes

  1. 1.

    http://www.gov.cn/zwgk/2013-07/15/content_2445989.htm.

  2. 2.

    http://www.yaan.gov.cn/yaan.html.

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Acknowledgements

We would like to express our thanks to Wenhua Qi, Institute of Geology, China Earthquake Administration; Lin Li, Yaan Earthquake Service Center; Fan Yang, Hebei Earthquake Administration for their help of questionnaire survey and data collection. We would also like to thank all the reviewers for their valuable suggestions.

Funding

This work was supported by National Natural Science Foundation of China [Grant Numbers 41601567; 4180071278).

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Correspondence to Guiwu Su.

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Ethics approval was sought from the Human Subjects Ethics Review Committee (i.e., Committee on Science and Technology) of The Institute of Geology, China Earthquake Administration. All questionnaires surveyed in this study were anonymous.

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Wei, B., Su, G., Liu, F. et al. Public cognition and response to earthquake disaster: from the 2008 Mw7.9 Wenchuan to the 2013 Mw6.6 Lushan earthquakes in Sichuan Province, China. Nat Hazards (2021). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11069-021-04564-5

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Keywords

  • Earthquake
  • Cognition and response
  • Disaster experience
  • Lushan
  • Wenchuan