The Role of Individual Well-Being in Risk Perception and Evacuation for Chronic vs. Acute Hazards in Mexico

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disaster, risk, perception, evacuation, Mexico

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This paper examines how situational and cognitive measures of well-being associated with chronic and acute hazardous conditions affect perception of risk. The research was conducted in two disaster sites in the state of Puebla, Mexico; risk perception from chronic exposure to volcanic eruptions of Popocatépetl was investigated in San Pedro Benito Juárez, and risk perception from acute exposure to a flood/mudslide event was explored in Teziutlán. The research employed structured questionnaire surveys in both communities to collect information that included demographic information (e.g., age, sex, affinity to place, etc.), evacuation history, hazard belief systems, social networks, and physical and mental health related to hazard exposure. While well-being scores were worse for Teziutlán residents than for people in San Pedro Benito Juárez, with few exceptions it was in the chronic hazard site of San Pedro Benito Juárez and not in Teziutlán that individual well-being predicted risk perception. The results of this research can be used to tailor risk communication and educational policies differently for acute disaster vs. chronic hazard settings, as well as identify subpopulations for specific kinds of support or education.

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Citation / Publisher Attribution

Applied Geography, v. 31, issue 2, p. 700-711