Preoccupation and affect as predictors of protective action following natural disaster

N. D. Weinstein, J. E. Lyon, A. J. Rothman, C. L. Cuite

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

57 Scopus citations


The actions taken by individuals after natural disasters to prepare for future disasters were studied to see whether theories of self-protective action are missing important variables. Residents of three communities struck by severe tornadoes who did not experience damage or injury (N = 715) were interviewed shortly after the tornadoes and again 14 months later. Initial responses to the tornadoes and details of the tornado experience were used to predict precautions reported at the initial and follow-up interviews. Preoccupation with tornadoes strongly predicted action independent of affect, perceived risk, and perceived control. Recollections of fear felt during the tornado and negative affect when thinking about tornadoes were also related to action: both negative affect and high fear (if combined with preoccupation) were associated with less action in the initial period following the tornadoes. Our findings suggest that the conceptualization of action as reflecting a decision about the expected costs and benefits of action is inadequate and that theories of self-protective behaviour need to include measures of preoccupation and affect as well.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)351-363
Number of pages13
JournalBritish Journal of Health Psychology
Issue number4
StatePublished - 2000


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