Recent studies of public response to earthquake hazard have turned up a paradox. While the opportunity to take precautions increases roughly in proportion to the length of the warning period, the propensity of the public to take precautions may decrease correspondingly.
This is one of several conclusions of a recent survey article in California Geology (vol. 30, no. 12, pp. 278–280, 1977) by E. L. Jackson, University of Alberta, entitled ‘Public Response to Earthquake Hazard.’ There is also, he reports, a preference for crisis response, taking ‘avoidance action’ at the time of an earthquake. Although people who had already sustained severe earthquake damages were more likely to take precautionary measures, there was still an overwhelming feeling that preparing for future earthquakes is a governmental responsibility. Jackson says, ‘These findings indicate a need to examine the role of current government policy in shaping the public's behavior.’