Electronic Theses and Dissertations

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

M.A. in Psychology



First Advisor

Stefan E. Schulenberg

Second Advisor

Elicia Lair

Third Advisor

Michael Allen

Relational Format



There is a growing interest in conducting research at the university level as a means of evaluating the effectiveness of disaster preparedness programs and/or procedures. Additional studies have examined student preparedness, although further research is needed to develop a better understanding of factors related to preparedness. It was hypothesized that students who are older will be more prepared, that students who perceive a natural disaster as more of a threat will be more prepared, and that those who have experienced a natural disaster will be more prepared. The current study also examined whether a student’s confidence in university preparedness is related to how concerned they are about a natural disaster occurring and, in turn, if students’ concern is related to how prepared they are. Finally, the study aimed to determine whether there are group differences in disaster preparedness considering various student demographic variables, as well as to further explore the relationships between potential disaster preparedness factors. The final sample size was comprised of 806 student participants who were administered an online survey that included questions regarding disaster preparedness and their experiences with disasters. The majority of the sample was female, White/non-Hispanic, freshman, lived off campus, and was an average of 23 years old. Differences in disaster preparedness-related variables were found in gender and the residential status of students. Age was not found to be a significant predictor of preparedness while Total Experience was found to be a significant predictor of both Actual and Perceived Preparedness. Mixed results were found regarding the relationship between perceived threat and preparedness. Post-hoc exploratory analyses suggest that student confidence in UM’s ability to prepare for disasters was a significant predictor of Total Concern, that variables measured in the current study were more related to perceived preparedness versus actual preparedness, and that Total Experience remained a significant predictor of both. Primary limitations of the current investigation include the exploratory and cross-sectional nature of the study design. In addition to utilizing alternative methodologies, suggested future research includes incorporating existing theoretical frameworks and elaboration of the assessment of demographic and population characteristics. At a more global level, the findings highlight the necessity for a critical phase of developing a research program to increase disaster preparedness at an academic institution that involves a more broad assessment and evaluation of the proximal environment in relation to natural disaster preparedness. Locally, moving forward, the institution and researchers can use the foundation of knowledge resulting from the current findings to continue to work together to incorporate a strong evidenced-based framework for further research. Specific recommendations for future research and practical applications are provided.


Emphasis: Clinical Psychology



To view the content in your browser, please download Adobe Reader or, alternately,
you may Download the file to your hard drive.

NOTE: The latest versions of Adobe Reader do not support viewing PDF files within Firefox on Mac OS and if you are using a modern (Intel) Mac, there is no official plugin for viewing PDF files within the browser window.