Perception of Earthquake Risk in Taiwan: Effects of Gender and Past Earthquake Experience

Authors


Sue-Huei Chen, Department of Psychology, National Taiwan University, Taipei 106, Taiwan; tel: +886-2-3366-3100; fax: +886-2-2369-9129; shchen@ntu.edu.tw.

Abstract

This study explored how individuals in Taiwan perceive the risk of earthquake and the relationship of past earthquake experience and gender to risk perception. Participants (n= 1,405), including earthquake survivors and those in the general population without prior direct earthquake exposure, were selected and interviewed through a computer-assisted telephone interviewing procedure using a random sampling and stratification method covering all 24 regions of Taiwan. A factor analysis of the interview data yielded a two-factor structure of risk perception in regard to earthquake. The first factor, “personal impact,” encompassed perception of threat and fear related to earthquakes. The second factor, “controllability,” encompassed a sense of efficacy of self-protection in regard to earthquakes. The findings indicated prior earthquake survivors and females reported higher scores on the personal impact factor than males and those with no prior direct earthquake experience, although there were no group differences on the controllability factor. The findings support that risk perception has multiple components, and suggest that past experience (survivor status) and gender (female) affect the perception of risk. Exploration of potential contributions of other demographic factors such as age, education, and marital status to personal impact, especially for females and survivors, is discussed. Future research on and intervention program with regard to risk perception are suggested accordingly.

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