Residents’ Information Seeking Behavior and Protective Action for Earthquake Hazards in the Portland Oregon Metropolitan Area

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Though significant research exists on earthquake hazard adjustment adoption more generally, research focused on how information seeking influences planned or actual preparedness behavior is rare, limiting our understanding of how information seeking translates into preparedness. To address this gap, our study tests a proposed model of household seismic hazard adjustment using questionnaire responses of roughly 400 households living in the Portland, OR metropolitan region. The proposed model includes components of the Protective Action Decision Model (PADM) with specific emphasis on past information seeking behavior, preparedness behavior, intentions to seek information, and intentions to take protective action. Other components include risk perception, earthquake experience, affective response, seismic risk zone residency, and demographics. Consistent with previous research, this study finds information seeking behavior to be the strongest influence on preparedness with other important influences being risk perception, affective response, and intentions to prepare. We find weak ties between risk zone residency and earthquake risk perception, though this may be because our sample has little experience with earthquakes and the majority live in the same earthquake risk zones. Importantly, longitudinal studies are needed to determine whether information seeking and intentions to prepare eventually result in household protective action.