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Federalism meets Social Cognition: Temporal and Substantive Variation in Risk Perception across Levels of Government.

EasyChair Preprint no. 1149

25 pagesDate: June 10, 2019


As wildfires’ complexity increases, there are more government actors at multiple levels and private actors involved in and affected by fire response. The wildland fire response community has broadly adopted risk management principles and practices to guide decision making on complex wildfire events. As a result, risk perception is a key factor in shaping decision making and subsequent response. While there is a well-developed literature on general public risk perception of disasters, less is known about the risk perception of key decision makers. Therefore, understanding risk perception variation across stakeholder groups may offer valuable insight into points of tension and conflict on multi-jurisdictional disasters. This paper aims to address this gap by conducting a within and cross-case analysis of risk narratives from responders on the same incidents from ten of the most complex U.S. events in 2017. Data are from interviews with 89 agency administrators and representatives of federal, tribal, state, local, and private jurisdictions. Analysis of risk narratives revealed variation among levels of government and sector in temporal bounding of risk perception within substantive areas. We found actors view risk differently, with commercial landowners focusing more on long-term economic impacts, federal landowners on immediate tactical risk to firefighters, state landowners on immediate public safety, and local landowners expressing a variety of risk concerns. Findings provide perspective on differing risk perceptions, which may ease communication and strategic decision-making processes around risk prioritization and fire management among jurisdictions.

Keyphrases: risk perception, social cognition, temporal

BibTeX entry
BibTeX does not have the right entry for preprints. This is a hack for producing the correct reference:
  author = {Anne-Lise Velez and Honey Minkowitz and Shannon McGovern},
  title = {Federalism meets Social Cognition: Temporal and Substantive Variation in Risk Perception across Levels of Government.},
  howpublished = {EasyChair Preprint no. 1149},

  year = {EasyChair, 2019}}
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