A research paper, published in the Social Psychological Bulletin by researchers from Universities in New Zealand, examines the impact of framing on decision-making, specifically when using the terms “natural hazards” and “natural disasters”. The study was conducted using the Theory of Planned Behaviour as a framework and an online experiment with a large community sample from Wellington, Aotearoa, New Zealand. The results suggest that framing these issues significantly affects how intentions are formed and translated into actual behaviour. The research shows subtle but meaningful differences in risk perception and behaviour depending on whether the risk refers to natural hazards or natural disasters, concluding that communication efforts to increase risk reduction behaviour are more effective when referring to natural hazards. The study highlights the need for public information campaigns and interventions to increase preparedness for the risks posed by such hazards.

The research resonates with the #NoNaturalDisasters Campaign led by academics and supported by the UNDRR (United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction). This campaign adds to the discourse and debate supporting previous research findings that have concluded there is no such thing as a natural disaster. The campaign advocates that everyone has a role in changing language and discourse to communicate how a hazard creates a disaster because of maladaptive actions and decisions taken by humanity (past and present).  It calls for those in positions of power to not blame nature or use it to avoid responsibility.

Vinnell, L. J., Milfont, T. L., & McClure, J. (2023). Natural Hazard Versus Natural Disaster: Does Framing the Event Affect Preparedness Intentions, Attitudes, and Behaviour? Social Psychological Bulletin18, 1-26. https://doi.org/10.32872/spb.8357


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