Rockfalls: predicting high-risk behaviour from beliefs



Publication Details

Aucote, H. M., Miner, A. & Dahlhaus, P. (2010). Rockfalls: predicting high-risk behaviour from beliefs. Disaster Prevention and Management, 19 (1), 20-31.


Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to gain an understanding of the public's beliefs, attitudes and knowledge regarding rockfalls, and to see whether these variables could predict whether a person is likely to enter high-risk rockfall areas.

Design/methodology/approach – A questionnaire was developed to measure beliefs (informed by the health belief model), knowledge, and previous behaviour in relation to rockfalls. Questions were also included to measure attitudes regarding rockfall caution signs. In total, 138 members of the general public completed the questionnaire.

Findings – High-risk behaviour was more likely if the person was male and if the person had the belief that sign-posted high-risk areas were not dangerous. Further, believing that the sign-posted areas were not dangerous was more likely among people who held negative attitudes towards cautionary signs; specifically, these participants were more likely to doubt the validity of the warning signs.

Research limitations/implications – The research was exploratory in nature. Further research should be conducted with a larger sample size and a more random selection of the general population. Ways of improving measurement of the variables are discussed.

Practical implications – Efforts should be made to increase the public's perception of the validity of rockfall cautionary signs. Doing so may decrease injury and death as a result of rockfalls. Suggestions on ways to increase the validity of signage are made.

Originality/value – It is presumed that this study is the first to attempt to gain an understanding of the beliefs and attitudes that may lead a person into engaging in high-risk behaviour in relation to rockfalls.

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