Social–Psychological Perspectives on Preparedness Theory and Practice: Facilitating Resilience

  • Douglas PatonEmail author
Part of the Disaster and Risk Research: GADRI Book Series book series (DRRGBS)


The growing need for people to be able to respond in timely and effective ways to the challenges posed by natural hazard events has highlighted the need for their preparation in ways that reduce their risk and increase the capacity for resilient and adaptive response and recovery when disaster strikes. This chapter first introduces the challenges to preparedness that people experience. It then discusses how social and psychological constructs and theories can be pressed into service to inform understanding how to facilitate the development of two core elements of the UNISDR definition of preparedness; encouraging people’s ability to anticipate their hazardous futures and facilitating the development of preparedness for likely events. The discussion also addresses the need for preparedness theory to have all-hazards and cross-cultural applicability. The contents draw on research examples from applying preparedness theory in New Zealand, Japan and Indonesia to discuss how universal preparedness theory can be developed. The chapter discusses the practical utility of social–psychological theory by demonstrating how theory can inform the development of a community engagement strategy and concludes by discussing the benefits of developing DRR theories and intervention practices by integrating community development, community engagement and risk management inputs.


Preparedness All-hazards Cross-cultural Community development Community engagement Risk management 


  1. Adhikari M, Paton D, Johnston D, Prasanna R, McColl ST (2018) Modelling predictors of earthquake preparedness in Nepal. Procedia Engineering 212:910–917Google Scholar
  2. Bajek R, Matsuda Y, Okada N (2008) Japan’s Jishu-bosai-soshiki community activities: analysis of its role in participatory community disaster risk management. Nat Haz 44:281–292Google Scholar
  3. Bandura A (1997) Self-efficacy: the exercise of control. W.H. Freeman, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  4. Bhandari R, Okada N, Yokomatsu N, Ikeo H (2010) Analyzing urban ritual with reference to development of social capital for disaster resilience: a case study of Kishiwada. Proceedings of IEEE International Conference on Systems, Man and Cybernetics, pp 3477–3482Google Scholar
  5. Blumer H (1969) Symbolic interactionism: Perspective and method. Prentice-Hall, Englewood Cliffs, NJGoogle Scholar
  6. Buergelt PT, Paton D (2014) An Ecological Risk Management and Capacity Building Model. Hum Ecol 42:591–603Google Scholar
  7. Buergelt PT, Paton D, Sithole B, Sangha K, Prasadarao PSDV, Campion L, Campion J (2017) Living in Harmony with our Environment: A paradigm shift. In: Paton D, Johnston DM (eds) Disaster Resilience: An integrated approach, 2nd edn. Charles C, Thomas, Springfield, Ill, pp 289–307Google Scholar
  8. Cutter SL, Ismail-Zadeh A, Alcántara-Ayala I, Altan O, Baker DN, Briceño S, Gupta H, Holloway A, Johnston DM, McBean GA, Ogawa Y, Paton D, Porio E, Silbereisen RK, Takeuchi K, Valsecchi GB, Vogel C, Wu G (2015) Global risks: Pool knowledge to stem losses from disasters. Nature 522:277–279Google Scholar
  9. Dooley D, Catalano R, Mishra S, Serxner S (1992) Earthquake preparedness: Predictors in a community Survey. J Appl Soc Psychol 22:451–470Google Scholar
  10. Duval TS, Mulilis J-P (1995) A person-relative-to-event (PrE) approach to negative threat appeals and earthquake preparedness: A field study. J Appl Soc Psych 29:495–516Google Scholar
  11. Frandsen M, Paton D, Sakariassen K, Killalea D (2012) Nurturing Community Wildfire Preparedness from the Ground Up: Evaluating a community engagement initiative. In: Paton D, Tedim F (eds) Wildfire and Community: Facilitating preparedness and resilience. Charles C, Thomas, Springfield, Ill, pp 260–280Google Scholar
  12. Gregg C, Houghton B (2006) Natural hazards. In: Paton D, Johnston D (eds) Disaster Resilience: An integrated approach. Charles C. Thomas, Springfield, Ill, (pp 19–39)Google Scholar
  13. Grothmann T, Reusswig F (2006) People at risk of flooding: Why some residents take precautionary action while others do not. Nat Haz 38:101–120Google Scholar
  14. Guion DT, Scammon DL, Borders AL (2007) Weathering the storm: a social marketing perspective on disaster preparedness and response with lessons from Hurricane Katrina. J Publ Policy Mark 26:20–32Google Scholar
  15. Harries T (2008) Feeling secure or being secure? Why it can seem better not to protect yourself against a natural hazard. Health, Risk Soc 10:479–490Google Scholar
  16. Ismail-Zadeh AT, Cutter SL, Takeuchi K, Paton D (2017) Forging a paradigm shift in disaster science. Nat Haz 86:969–988Google Scholar
  17. Johnson BB, Nakayachi K (2017) Examining associations between citizens’ beliefs and attitudes about uncertainty and their earthquake risk judgments, preparedness intentions, and mitigation policy support in Japan and the United States. Int J Dis Risk Reduct 22:37–45Google Scholar
  18. Kanamori H, Rivera L, Lee WHK (2010) Historical seismograms for unravelling a mysterious earthquake: The 1907 Sumatra Earthquake. Geophys J Int 183:358–374Google Scholar
  19. Kerstholt J, Duijnhoven H, Paton D (2017) Flooding in The Netherlands: How people’s interpretation of personal, social and institutional resources influence flooding preparedness. Int J Dis Risk Reduct 24:52–57Google Scholar
  20. Kitagawa K (2015) Living with an active volcano: informal and community learning for preparedness in south of Japan. Adv Volc 12:1–17Google Scholar
  21. Kobayashi I (2007) Machizukuri (Community Development) for recovery whose leading role citizens play. J Dis Res 2:358–371Google Scholar
  22. Lang DJ, Wiek A, Bergmann M, Stauffacher M, Martens P, Moll P, Swilling M, Thomas CJ (2012) Transdisciplinary research in sustainability science: practice, principles, and challenges. Sustain Sci 7:25–43Google Scholar
  23. Levac J, Toal-Sullivan D, O’Sullivan TL (2012) Household emergency preparedness: a literature review. J Comm Health 37:725–733Google Scholar
  24. Lindell MK, Arlikatti S, Prater CS (2009) Why do people do what they do to protect against earthquake risk: Perception of hazard adjustment attributes. Risk Anal 29:1072–1088Google Scholar
  25. Lindell MK, Perry RW (2012) The Protective Action Decision Model: Theoretical modifications and additional evidence. Risk Anal 32:616–632Google Scholar
  26. Lindell MK, Whitney DJ (2000) Correlates of household seismic hazard adjustment adoption. Risk Anal 20:13–25Google Scholar
  27. Lion R, Meertens RM, Bot I (2002) Priorities in information desire about unknown risks. Risk Anal 22:765–776Google Scholar
  28. Maddux JE (2005) Self-efficacy: The power of believing you can. In: Snyder CR, Lopez SJ (eds) Handbook of positive psychology. Oxford University Press, New York, pp 227–287Google Scholar
  29. McIvor D, Paton D (2007) Preparing for natural hazards: Normative and attitudinal influences. Dis Prevent Mgmt 16:79–88Google Scholar
  30. McIvor D, Paton D, Johnston DM (2009) Modelling community preparation for natural hazards: Understanding hazard cognitions. J Pacific Rim Psych 3:39–46Google Scholar
  31. McLennan J, Cowlishaw S, Paton D, Beatson R, Elliott G (2014) Predictors of south-eastern Australian householders’ strengths of intentions to self-evacuate if a wildfire threatens: Two theoretical models. Int J Wildland Fire 23:1176–1188Google Scholar
  32. Paton D (2000) Emergency Planning: Integrating community development, community resilience and hazard mitigation. J Amer Soc Prof Emer Mgrs 7:109–118Google Scholar
  33. Paton D (2006) Disaster Resilience: Building capacity to co-exist with natural hazards and their consequences. In: Paton D, Johnston D (eds) Disaster Resilience: An integrated approach. Charles C, Thomas, Springfield, Ill, pp 3–10Google Scholar
  34. Paton D (2008) Risk communication and natural hazard mitigation: How trust influences its effectiveness. Int J Global Env Issues 8:2–16Google Scholar
  35. Paton D, Buergelt PT, Prior T (2008) Living with bushfire risk: Social and environmental influences on preparedness. Aus J Emer Mgmt 23:41–48Google Scholar
  36. Paton D (2013) Disaster Resilient Communities: Developing and testing an all-hazards theory. J Int Dis Risk Mgmt 3:1–17Google Scholar
  37. Paton D, McClure J (2013) Preparing for Disaster: Building household and community capacity. Charles C, Thomas, Springfield, IllGoogle Scholar
  38. Paton D (2017) Co-existing with Natural Hazards and their Consequences. In: Paton D, Johnston DM (eds) Disaster Resilience: An integrated approach, 2nd edn. Charles C, Thomas, Springfield, Ill, pp 3–17Google Scholar
  39. Paton D, Bajek R, Okada N, McIvor D (2010) Predicting Community Earthquake Preparedness: A cross-cultural comparison of Japan and New Zealand. Nat Haz 54:765–781Google Scholar
  40. Paton D, Buergelt PT (2017) Facilitating Social-Environmental Adaptation to Environmental Hazards: Towards a Universal Theory. In: Daniels JA (ed) Advances in Environmental Research. Nova Scientific Publishers, New York, pp 35–58Google Scholar
  41. Paton D, Frandsen M, Middleton P (2013a) Promoting community bushfire preparedness using a community engagement approach, Poster presentation, AFAC/BCRC Conference, Melbourne, Australia. September 25thGoogle Scholar
  42. Paton D, Okada N, Sagala S (2013b) Understanding Preparedness for Natural Hazards: A cross-cultural comparison. J Int Dis Risk Mgmt 3:18–35Google Scholar
  43. Paton D, Jang L-j, Irons M (2015a) Building Capacity to Adapt to the Consequences of Disaster: Linking Disaster Recovery and Disaster Risk Reduction. In: Brown D (ed) Capacity Building: Planning, Programs and Prospects. Nova Scientific Publishers, New York, pp 85–114Google Scholar
  44. Paton D, Anderson E, Becker J, Peterson J (2015b) Developing a Comprehensive Model of Earthquake Preparedness: Lessons from the Christchurch earthquake. Int J Dis Risk Reduct 14:37–45Google Scholar
  45. Paton D, Johnston D, Mamula-Seadon L, Kenney CM (2014) Recovery and Development: Perspectives from New Zealand and Australia. In: Kapucu N, Liou KT (eds) Disaster and development: Examining global issues and cases. Springer, New York, NY, pp 255–272Google Scholar
  46. Paton D, Jang L-J, Kitagawa K, Mamula-Seadon L, Sun Y (2017a) Coping with and Adapting to Natural Hazard Consequences: Cross cultural perspectives. In: Paton D, Johnston DM (eds) Disaster Resilience: An integrated approach, 2nd edn. Charles C, Thomas, Springfield, Ill, pp 236–254Google Scholar
  47. Paton D, Kerstholt J, Skinner I (2017b) Hazard Preparedness and Resilience. In: Paton D, Johnston DM (eds) Disaster Resilience: An integrated approach, 2nd edn. Charles C, Thomas, Springfield, Ill, pp 114–137Google Scholar
  48. Paton D, Kelly G, Bürgelt PT, Doherty M (2006a) Preparing for Bushfires: Understanding intentions. Dis Prev Mgmt 15:566–575Google Scholar
  49. Paton D, McClure J, Bürgelt PT (2006b) Natural hazard resilience: The role of individual and household preparedness. In: Paton D, Johnston D (eds) Disaster Resilience: An integrated approach. Charles C, Thomas, Springfield, Ill, pp 105–127Google Scholar
  50. Paton D, Sagala S (2018) Disaster Risk Reduction in Indonesia. Springfield, Ill., Charles C. ThomasGoogle Scholar
  51. Paton D, Smith LM, Johnston D (2005) When good intentions turn bad: Promoting natural hazard preparedness. Aus J Emer Mgmt 20:25–30Google Scholar
  52. Pelling M (2011) Adaptation to Climate Change: from resilience to transformation. Routledge, Abingdon, OxonGoogle Scholar
  53. Pelling M, O’Brien K, Matyas D (2015) Adaptation and transformation. Clim Change 133:113–127Google Scholar
  54. Russell LA, Goltz JD, Bourque LB (1995) Preparedness and hazard mitigation actions before and after two earthquakes. Environ Behav 27:744–770Google Scholar
  55. Siegrist M, Cvetkovich G (2000) Perception of hazards: The role of social trust and knowledge. Risk Anal 20:713–719Google Scholar
  56. Skinner I (2016) Bushfire Ready Neighbourhoods: 2014-2016 Evaluation Report. Hobart, Tasmania Fire ServiceGoogle Scholar
  57. Solberg C, Rossetto T, Joffe H (2010) The social psychology of seismic hazard adjustment: Re-evaluating the international literature. Nat Haz Earth Sys Sci 10:1663–1677Google Scholar
  58. Sutton S, Buergelt PT, Paton D, Sagala S (2018) Cultural Drivers of Disaster Risk Reduction Behaviour: The case of Pulau Simeulue. In: Paton D, Sagala S (eds) Disaster Risk Reduction in Indonesia. Charles C, Thomas, Springfield, Ill, pp 167–185Google Scholar
  59. Twigg J (2015) Disaster Risk Reduction. Overseas Development Institute, LondonGoogle Scholar
  60. UNISDR (2015) Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction 2015–230. Retrieved from:
  61. UNISDR (2016) Report of the open-ended intergovernmental expert working group on indicators and terminology relating to disaster risk reduction. Geneva, Switzerland: United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction. Retrieved from
  62. UNISDR (2017) What is Disaster Risk Reduction? Retrieved from

Copyright information

© Springer Nature Singapore Pte Ltd. 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.College of Health and Human SciencesCharles Darwin UniversityDarwinAustralia

Personalised recommendations