Publication Date


Date of Final Oral Examination (Defense)


Type of Culminating Activity


Degree Title

Doctor of Philosophy in Geosciences



Major Advisor

Brittany D. Brand, Ph.D.


Michael K. Lindell, Ph.D.


Jennifer Pierce, Ph.D.


Eric Lindquist, Ph.D.


Natural hazards have been a part of the landscape since its existence, but they are becoming more devastating as they intersect with growing populations and as climate change increases their frequency and intensity. As these changes occur, the need to understand how to reduce disaster impacts becomes paramount. Despite growing concern and increasing costs of disasters over the past decade, household preparedness, which is at the foundation of disaster readiness, has seen little to no improvement. Using two research experiments, we adopt the Protective Action Decision Model (PADM; Lindell & Perry, 2004; 2012) as a framework to investigate what motivates households to prepare and examine how effective risk communication strategies are at increasing awareness and preparedness. Here we find information seeking behavior to be the strongest influence not only on preparedness, but other PADM factors as well, such as intentions to prepare, feelings (positive and negative) about earthquake threat, knowledge of protective recommendations, and risk perception. Additionally, in our Portland, Oregon case study, we find significant gaps exist in terms of public understanding of earthquake hazards (liquefaction), and what to do during an earthquake. We also find that the majority of residents do not know their risk zone and have difficulty interpreting and using hazard maps. This research expands our understanding of the factors that influence household preparedness and highlights specific areas for improvement. Because hazards are a natural part of living on this planet, it is important that we consider the inherent risks and develop strategies to become more resilient.