A Department of Homeland Security Center of Excellence led by the University of Maryland

A consortium of researchers dedicated to improving the understanding of the human causes and consequences of terrorism

Disaster Warnings in Your Pocket: How Audiences Interpret Mobile Alerts for an Unfamiliar Hazard


Disaster Warnings in Your Pocket: How Audiences Interpret Mobile Alerts for an Unfamiliar Hazard

Abstract: 

This study investigates how people interpret Wireless Emergency Alerts (WEAs) and Twitter-length messages (‘tweets’) delivered over mobile devices for an unfamiliar hazard. Specifically, through four (N = 31) focus groups and 31 think-out-loud interviews, participants’ understanding of, belief in and personalisation of WEAs and tweets were assessed for a mock improvised nuclear device detonation in a major U.S. metropolitan area. While participants offered a wide variety of interpretations, WEAs and tweets were often deemed confusing, difficult to believe and impersonal. Participants also consistently found WEAs and tweets to be fear inducing and uninformative. The findings compel improvements in the way that WEAs and tweets are currently written, as well as indicate future directions for applied risk and crisis communication theory development.

Publication Information

Full Citation: 

Bean, Hamilton, Brooke F. Liu, Stephanie Madden, Jeannette Sutton, Michele M. Wood and Dennis S. Mileti. 2016. "Disaster Warnings in Your Pocket: How Audiences Interpret Mobile Alerts for an Unfamiliar Hazard." Journal of Contingencies and Crisis Management (March): 1-12. http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/1468-5973.12108/full

Publication URL: 
Visit Website

Additional Info

Research Area: 
Regions: