Protection Motivation Theory (PMT) was developed by Rogers in 1975, to describe how individuals are motivated to react in a self-protective way towards a perceived health threat. Rogers expected the use of PMT to diversify over time, which has proved true over four decades. The purpose of this paper is to explore how PMT can be used and expanded to inform and improve public safety strategies in natural hazards. As global climate change impacts on the Australian environment, natural hazards seem to be increasing in scale and frequency, and Emergency Services’ public education campaigns have necessarily escalated to keep pace with perceived public threat. Of concern, is that the awareness-preparedness gap in residents’ survival plans is narrowing disproportionately slowly compared to the magnitude of resources applied to rectify this trend. Practical applications of adaptable social theory could be used to help resolve this dilemma.
PMT has been used to describe human behaviour in individuals, families, and the parent-child unit. It has been applied to floods in Europe and wildfire and earthquake in the United States. This paper seeks to determine if an application of PMT can be useful for achieving other-directed human protection across a novel demographic spectrum in natural hazards, specifically, animal owners and emergency responders in bushfire emergencies.
These groups could benefit from such an approach: owners to build and fortify their response- and self-efficacy, and to help translate knowledge into safer behaviour, and responders to gain a better understanding of a diverse demographic with animal ownership as its common denominator, and with whom they will be likely to engage in contemporary natural hazard management. Mutual collaboration between these groups could lead to a synergy of reciprocated response efficacy, and safer, less traumatic outcomes.
Emergency services’ community education programs have made significant progress over the last decade, but public safety remains suboptimal while the magnitude of the awareness-preparedness gap persists. This paper examines an expanded, other-directed application of PMT to expand and enhance safer mitigation and response behaviour strategies for communities threatened by bushfire, which may ultimately help save human life.