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

Hamilton Bean, Brooke F. Liu, Stephanie Madden, Jeannette Sutton, Michele M. Wood, Dennis S. Mileti

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

31 Scopus citations

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.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)136-147
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Contingencies and Crisis Management
Volume24
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - Sep 1 2016

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Management Information Systems
  • Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law

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