Several broader theories of attitude-behavior relations, such as social cognitive theory (SCT, Bandura 1986, McIvor, Paton, and Johnston 2009, Paton, Smith, and Johnson 2005), the protective action decision model (PADM, Paton and McClure 2013), protective motivation theory (PMT, Bandura 1977, Rogers 1975, 1983, Rogers and Prentice-Dunn 1997, Paton and McClure 2013), the health belief model (HBM, Becker 1974, Rosenstock 1974, Akompab Williams, Grant, Walker, and Augoustinos 2013), the person-relative-to-event (PrE) model (Duval and Duval 1985, Duval and Mulilis 1989), the theory of planned behavior (TPB, Ajzen 1985), and critical awareness theory (Paton 2005) have been applied to predict natural hazard preparedness. These theories have investigated individual-level factors such as coping, self-efficacy, response-efficacy and control beliefs to explain decision-making and behavior under various conditions of risk and uncertainty in order to predict both individuals’ intentions to prepare and actual preparedness. Several studies (e.g., Duval and Mulilis 1999, Lindell and Whitney 2000, Paton, Smith and Johnston 2005, Perry and Lindell 2008) have also identified the role played by intra-individual factors on levels of preparedness.
One early comprehensive social-cognitive model of natural hazard preparedness was proposed by Paton (2003), who based it on studies of the adoption of health risk behaviors (e.g., Abraham et al. 1998, Bennett and Murphy 1997, Duval and Mulilis 1999). The model includes three phases, each influenced by a specific set of variables. The first contains antecedent factors that motivate individuals including critical risk awareness, risk perception, and hazard anxiety. The second includes variables that link the initial motivation to intention formation, such as outcome expectancy, self efficacy, response-efficacy, and problem-focused coping. The third focuses on the relation between intentions and preparation, including perceived responsibility, time of hazard activity, sense of community, response-efficacy, normative factors such as trust and empowerment.
Paton et al (2005) adopted his 2003 model to examine tsunami preparedness in coastal Washington state and found that preparedness levels were low-to-moderate despite reasonable success in disseminating hazard information. The authors conclude that different strategies should be used for each of the three stages of the model, motivating individuals to prepare (that is, precursor variables), facilitating the formation of intentions (that is, intention formation variables), and promoting the conversion of intentions to preparedness (that is, moderator variables).
Other studies have focused on the role of community context factors as predictors of natural disaster preparedness (e.g., Lindell and Perry 2004, Paton 2013, Paton, Bürgelt, and Prior 2008, Paton et al. 2005, Paton, Houghton, Gregg, Gill et al. 2008). One such model (Paton, Houghton, Gregg, Gill et al. 2008) describes how beliefs and their social context influence levels of hazard preparedness. In it, individuals’ interpretations under uncertainty in natural hazards commence with their beliefs about the efficacy of protective actions and interact with social context factors including community participation, collective efficacy, empowerment, and trust to influence levels of tsunami preparedness.
The present study adopted Paton, Bürgelt and Prior’s (2008) model as a starting point because it is most clearly relevant to our objectives, but it includes, in particular, psychological barriers to action as a potentially important influence. The variables in the present study’s model are described next.
2.1 Sense of community
The sense of belonging to one’s community and attachment for local individuals and places can be an important factor (e.g., Bishop, Paton, Syme, and Nanearrow 2000, Carver et al. 1989, Duval and Mulilis, 1999). Few studies have investigated the influence of sense of community on community participation, although their connection appears to be relatively strong (e.g., Paton, Bürgelt, and Prior 2008). This connection might be expected to strengthen the relation between public participation and intention to prepare or actual preparation.
2.2 Community participation
Individuals tend to share their interests, values and expectations with others when they are dealing with uncertain events and when they lack information they need (Earle 2004, Lion et al. 2002, Paton and Bishop 1996, Poortinga and Pidgeon 2004). Involvement in community activities provides individuals with a broader range of information and collective knowledge from other community members while sharing their interests, values and expectations with others.
Some studies report a significant relation between community participation and the intention to prepare (Paton, Smith, Daly, and Johnston 2008, Paton, Bürgelt, and Prior 2009) and preparation (Paton, Houghton, Gregg, Gill et al. 2008, Paton et al. 2009), which supports the hypothesis that interacting with other community members fosters preparation.
2.3 Positive outcome expectancy
Outcome expectancy is an intra-individual variable that concerns how cost and benefit beliefs influence levels of preparedness when faced with complex and uncertain events (Bennett and Murphy 1997). Individuals who hold negative outcome expectancy (NOE) beliefs are expected to take precautionary actions (Paton, Bürgelt, and Prior 2008, Paton, Houghton, Gregg, Gill et al. 2008, Paton, Houghton, Gregg, McIvor et al. 2008, Paton and Tedim 2014).
In contrast, those who believe that preparing for a disaster can have beneficial consequences are expected to be more likely to prepare (Paton, Bürgelt, and Prior 2008, Paton, Houghton, Gregg, Gill et al. 2008). In addition, some results have supported the positive role of POE on the intention to prepare (Paton, Bürgelt, and Prior 2008, Paton et al. 2009, Paton, Houghton, Gregg, Gill et al. 2008, Paton, Frandsen, and Johnston 2010, Sagala et al. 2009, Ejeta, Ardalan, Paton, and Yaseri 2018).
2.4 Psychological barriers: The dragons of inaction
Preparation for hazards often does not occur, or is inadequate, even with good intentions to do so, it may be hindered by psychological obstacles such as rationalizations and justifications for not preparing. Therefore, the “dragons of inaction” (Gifford 2011) were considered as possible hindrances to residents’ intention to prepare and preparations.
Evidence from other disasters supports this possibility. For example, the relation between negative outcome expectancy beliefs and bushfire preparation was mediated by preparation inhibitors, social conflict, and resource constraints (e.g., not prepared to work with others, time, financial, Paton, Bürgelt, & Prior 2008). The notion of investigating barriers to action was noted by Paton (2019) in describing his preparedness theory. However, to the best of our knowledge, the role of psychological barriers on intentions to prepare for disaster and individuals’ levels of preparedness has not yet been investigated.