The communication of uncertain scientific advice during natural hazard events

Emma Doyle, David Johnston, John McClure, Douglas Paton

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


During natural hazard crises such as earthquakes, tsunami, and volcanic eruptions, a number of critical challenges arise in emergency management decision-making. A multidisciplinary approach bridging psychology and natural hazard sciences has the potential to enhance the quality of these decisions. Psychological research into the public understanding of different phrasings of probability has identified that the framing, directionality and probabilistic format can influence people’s understanding, affecting their action choices. We present results identifying that translations of verbal to numerical probability phrases differ between scientists and non-scientists, and that translation tables such as those used for the International Panel on Climate Change reports should be developed for natural hazards. In addition we present a preliminary result illustrating that individuals may ‘shift’ the likelihood of an event towards the end of a time window.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)39-50
Number of pages12
JournalNew Zealand Journal of Psychology
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2011
Externally publishedYes


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