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The influence of individualistic worldviews on severe weather preparation

Maitlyn (Brucks) Lydahl, MPA, Jennifer Le, MPA, Mark Shafer, PhD, Aimee L. Franklin, PhD


How do people think they should prepare for tornadoes? To answer this question, we surveyed 340 people in six states in tornado alley and presented eight severe weather preparation choice sets that varied short and long-term benefits and costs with benefits or to the individual or to the community. Fifty-six percent of respondents preferred tornado preparations for the long-term that benefit individuals rather than the community. Correlations between personal characteristics, future expectations, and an individual’s preferred preparation strategy show that being married, expecting stronger tornados, and having an individualistic worldview significantly increased the choice of individual preparation options. Past tornado experience and one’s current protection level were not significantly related to individual-minded preparation choices. Out of 18 independent variables analyzed, individual worldview was the best predictor of a person’s preferences. Individual worldview by itself had better predictive power than a regression model that included an individual’s socioeconomic status, past severe weather experience, expectations about future tornados, and current protective measures for severe weather by itself. These findings can inform elected officials considering public policies for natural disaster preparedness and deciding between tradeoffs for keeping government costs low or providing benefits for everyone in the community. Our results are useful for planners and emergency managers who develop strategies to encourage tornado preparation by citizens in the community. For example, emergency managers can replicate the study with options specific to their community to determine what government communications or actions could prompt individuals to put protective measures in place.


severe weather preparation, individual worldview, climate science policy

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