RISK PERCEPTIONS AND STRESS DURING THE THREAT OF EXPLOSION FROM A RAILROAD ACCIDENT
The derailment of a train carrying hazardous material resulted in the evacuation of an entire Midwestern community. Risk perceptions and stress were assessed in evacuees and controls (N=90) during the acute phase of the disaster while threat of explosion was looming. Consistent with the social amplification of risk theory (Kasperson et al., 1988), risk perceptions for routine transportation technologies did not become amplified in evacuees during the technological disaster; however, some elevation of risk perceptions related to less familiar chemical and nuclear technologies was evident in evacuees as compared to controls. Investigation of the relationship between risk perceptions and stress response showed that high risk perceptions for transportation technologies were associated with elevated emotional and psychological stress, and poorer concentration in evacuees compared to controls. Results suggest that monitoring risk perceptions related to the cause of a technological accident is useful in predicting variance in evacuee response during a disaster.
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Document Type: Research Article
Publication date: 2004-01-01
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