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



The objective of this study was to examine previous disaster impact, threat perception, self-efficacy, and sex as predictors of university employees’ preparedness for natural disasters and incidents of mass violence. A cross-sectional survey was conducted with faculty and staff members (N = 410) at a medium-sized university located in the southern United States. Employees’ sex, disaster experience, impact of that experience, perceived threat, and self-efficacy were examined as predictors of actual preparedness, across a range of natural disasters and incidents of mass violence. Drawing from the Extended Parallel Process Model (EPPM; Figure 1), a moderated mediation model (Figure 2) was hypothesized and partially supported. For natural disasters, experience and sex had direct effects on perceived susceptibility (coefficients were a1i = .094, p = .001 for experience and a2i = .226, p = .010 for sex), but perceived susceptibility did not mediate the effect of disaster experience on preparedness behavior (b1i = .036, p = .255), nor did disaster experience have a significant direct effect (c' = -.038, p = .136). However, both self-efficacy and disaster impact had direct effects on preparedness behavior (self-efficacy coefficient b3 = .243, p < .0001, disaster impact coefficient b2 = .038, p = .045), and self-efficacy further moderated the effect of disaster impact (b6 = .035, p = .015). For incidents of mass violence, perceived susceptibility mediated the effect of experience on preparedness behavior (b1i = .074, p = .009), when self-efficacy was high and employees were female. As with natural disasters, experience and sex had direct effects on perceived susceptibility (a1i = .963, p = .020 for experience; a2i = -.255, p = .034). Self-efficacy also had a direct effect on preparedness behavior (b3 = .150, p < .0001). These results support EPPM theory in that threat messages and perceptions correspond to increased preparedness behavior when paired with self-efficacy for responding to disasters. Therefore, it is recommended that institutions of higher education employ disaster preparedness programs that focus on educating employees with regard to cultivating accurate threat perceptions and building their confidence in responding to disasters.


Emphasis: Clinical Psychology

Included in

Psychology Commons



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