Applying cultural values to encourage disaster preparedness: Lessons from a low-hazard country

Sandra Appleby-Arnold (Lead Author), Noellie Brockdorff, Ivana Jakovljev, Suncica Szdravkovic

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

We present results from the CARISMAND project,1 which investigated the relationships between risk perception and cultural factors in man-made and natural disasters. The present study focused on attitudes, feelings and perceptions in a”low-risk” country, the island of Malta. This research location was chosen due to its unique geographical and geo-political position. In combination with the low level of prevalent disaster risk, it can be seen to be particularly suitable for elucidating cultural factors which are strong enough to generate behavioural change in such an environment and allow further insight into the relationship between risk perception, culture and behaviour. The data were collected during a Citizen Summit (held in Malta in 2016) which combined quantitative inquiry, for measuring cognitive and emotional responses related to risk perception, with qualitative methods that follow the “fluid” character of culture. We found that disaster risk perception showed only weak links to preparedness intentions, supporting other published results. Focus group discussions revealed several cultural traits, most prominently strong family values and social cohesion, which was also supported by the quantitative data. Furthermore, we found evidence of how personal values are transformed into cultural values, and how these can work in favour, or against, a motivation to prepare for disasters. Our results suggest that integrating shared local values, shared everyday experiences, and shared local memories in risk communication strategies and behavioural guidelines may be effective in encouraging citizens’ disaster preparedness.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)37-44
JournalInternational Journal of Disaster Risk Reduction
Early online date17 Apr 2018
Publication statusPublished - 31 Oct 2018

Keywords / Materials (for Non-textual outputs)

  • risk perception
  • culture
  • disaster management
  • citizen summits
  • social cohesion
  • disaster preparedness


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