Natural Resources, School of


First Advisor

David C. Gosselin

Second Advisor

Mark E. Burbach

Third Advisor

Ronald J. Shope

Date of this Version


Document Type



Olds, S. E. (2023). Critical Factors and Individual Decision Making in Earthquake and Tsunami Preparedness Among Coastal Communities in Oregon U.S.A. (Publication No. 30575902) [Doctoral dissertation, University of Nebraska Lincoln]. ProQuest Dissertations & Theses.


A DISSERTATION Presented to the Faculty of The Graduate College at the University of Nebraska In Partial Fulfillment of Requirements For the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy, Major: Natural Resource Sciences (Human Dimensions), Under the Supervision of Professor David C. Gosselin. Lincoln, Nebraska: July, 2023

Copyright © 2023 Shelley E. Olds


Earthquakes and tsunamis are natural hazards that cause considerable loss of life, destruction of property and infrastructure, and economic damage. Preparedness is critical in regions of significant earthquake and tsunami risk. A key challenge for organizations that manage hazard preparedness and response is mobilizing earthquake preparedness among individuals and families. This dissertation provides an examination of individual earthquake and tsunami preparedness from both a global and regional perspective. It comprises two publications that explore various aspects of disaster preparedness.

Chapter One provides an overview of global seismic and tsunami hazards, along with potential impacts, and addresses the challenges in promoting preparedness. Chapter Two presents a systematic literature review of 49 articles from 2010-2020, revealing prominent social-cognitive and demographic dimensions influencing individual earthquake preparedness actions. The review identifies key motivators for preparedness: social connections, self-efficacy, personal responsibility, preparedness knowledge, and moderate hazard concern. Promising strategies for enhancing individual earthquake preparedness and fostering community resilience involve promoting self-efficacy, psychological coping skills, and social interaction.

Chapter Three develops a model explaining the process of building tsunami and earthquake preparedness among individuals residing in coastal communities of Oregon by employing a grounded theory approach. Preparing happens gradually, with individuals shifting between motivations and barriers while taking preparedness actions. The resultant theory demonstrates that social connections play a pivotal role throughout the process. The model highlights outcomes such as a preparedness culture integrated into daily life, a state of readiness, and increased confidence in surviving earthquakes and tsunamis.

The fourth chapter synthesizes the findings of the previous chapters and identifies practical recommendations for building local earthquake and tsunami resilience. The chapter presents a template for use by preparedness practitioners that offers practical guidance for future preparedness action campaigns targeting the combined risks of earthquakes and tsunamis.

Adviser: David C. Gosselin