USC School of Policy, Planning, and Development

Contents of Recent Issues

Volume 19, No. 2 (August 2001)

Articles by:

    Christina H. Gladwin, Hugh Gladwin, and Walter Gillis Peacock, "Modeling Hurricane Evacuation Decisions with Ethnographic Method," pp. 117-143.

      This paper directly models individual and household hurricane evacuation behavior using ethnographic decision tree analysis. This approach uses a set of iterative processes to inductively derive a general decision model from specific individual decision models. To elicit the model described here, below the authors and several graduate students interviewed Miami residents who had been in South Florida during both Hurricanes Andrew in 1992 and Erin in 1995. The resulting model of hurricane evacuation decision processes was then tested with interview data collected from a separate random sample of 954 South Florida residents drawn from areas that were evacuation zones and areas immediately adjacent to them at the time of Hurricane Andrew. The model captures the complexity and messiness of real-life decision-making by including criteria showing how people are constrained by their perceptions of the hurricane, the safety features of their homes, the time they have available to prepare for the hurricane, their age, and the reactions of other family members who are also deciding whether or not to evacuate. By showing the richness of the decision process as well as its messiness, results taken from this model can better inform emergency managers who need to know how people will react to the approach of a hurricane.

    Claes Wallenius, "Why Do People Sometimes Fail when Adapting to Danger? A Theoretical Discussion from a Psychological Perspective," pp. 145-180.

      During life-threatening danger, people may react in ways that decrease their chances of surviving or coping with the event. Several empirically demonstrated reactions have a potentially maladaptive effect on performance, due to limitations in our cognitive and emotional processing capacity or the activation of obsolete adaptation mechanisms. The possible psychological explanations for this are discussed in terms of assumptions derived from three major psychological paradigms: Darwinian, Freudian, and cognitive psychology. These theoretical models all illustrate useful concepts and assumptions, which do not logically exclude one another, necessary to understand more thoroughly how psychological adaptation occurs in danger situations. However, no theory alone explains the empirical findings, and the various theories should be integrated into a model that includes different levels of psychological function, from consciously controlled processes to emotional and automatic process.

    T. Joseph Scanlon and John Handmer, "The Halifax Explosion and the Port Arthur Massacre: Testing Samuel Henry Prince's Ideas," pp. 181-208.

      Samuel Henry Prince wrote that major catastrophes lead to change. Despite his status in the field, there have been few attempts to examine empirically Prince's ideas about change. In this paper the authors describe a massacre in Port Arthur, Tasmania, in 1996 in which a man armed with automatic weapons killed 35 persons and injured 19 others. As a result of the massacre, changes occurred in Australian gun-control laws. The fallout from the massacre is examined in light of Prince's thesis about change following catastrophes.

    Fausto Marincioni, "A Cross-Cultural Analysis of Natural Disaster Response: The Northwest Italy Floods of 1994 Compared to the U.S. Midwest Floods of 1993," pp. 209-236.

      The observation that similar types of natural disasters produce different reactions based on a particular culture and location demands a thorough and detailed analysis, because the reasons are likely to be numerous and complex. Although the economic situation, political organization, and technological infrastructure of communities are fundamental factors, they do not offer a complete explanation of people's behavior in the face of risk and disasters. This article uses a cross-cultural perspective to clarify the relationship between two cultures and their different patterns of response to extreme flood events. The research was carried out in two Western societies, the United States and Italy, both of which have similar socioeconomic characteristics, but distinctly different historical and cultural traditions. The disasters studied were the Po River Valley floods of November 1994 in northwest Italy and the Mississippi River-Missouri River floods in the U.S. upper Midwest during the summer of 1993. These two extreme floods were analyzed with respect to the pattern of human response during the preparation, rescue, recovery, and reconstruction phases. The study includes both human-response and cross-cultural analyses. A questionnaire was employed to gauge the perception of the flood disasters by the Italian and American disaster managers. The cross-cultural analysis was performed using an etic-emic contrast. The results showed that the different human responses observed in the floods of northwestern Italy and of the United States Midwest were linked to basic differences in four cultural elements: (1) experience with floods, (2) socio-political traditions and organization, (3) level of integration within the community, and (4) perception of the physical environment. (AA)

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