RfP Research Project Stories: Ashkan HashemiJune 30, 2023
QuakeCoRE Seminar – 11 August 2023July 17, 2023
Fear or Conformity?
What makes people protect themselves when they feel the rumblings of an earthquake? Lauren Vinnell of the Joint Centre for Disaster Research at Massey University is on a mission to find out. Far too many people are injured in earthquakes because they don’t drop, cover, and hold as soon as they feel the ground shaking.
Lauren and her colleagues are working on a Te Hiranga Rū QuakeCoRE project entitled “Understanding human behaviour during earthquake shaking to reduce injuries in Aotearoa New Zealand”. The project ties into QuakeCoRE’s Disciplinary Theme 4: “Cultural and Social Factors Shaping Resilience”.
Are people too embarrassed to drop, cover, and hold if no one else is doing it? Are they just not afraid enough to do anything? Lauren is curious about the social and physiological influences that motivate people to take protective actions in earthquakes.
Investigation of behaviour during the Kaikōura Earthquake won Lauren and co-authors the Earthquake Engineering Research Institute’s outstanding paper award in 2022. Using CCTV footage from Wellington Airport’s terminal building, the researchers analysed what actions people took when the ground started shaking. Now they have returned to the same dataset to look at whether people’s actions were influenced by those around them.
Social influences appear to be strong. Footage shows members of the public looked to uniformed staff to see what they should be doing, and children looked to parents. But very few protected themselves appropriately. To assess physiological influences, the researchers monitor participants’ heart rates during simulated shaking to see whether perceived threat relates to behaviour.
The research is novel. It is proof-of-concept work that will lead to better design for future studies. But already Lauren can see ways to encourage desired outcomes,
“We want people to know that others will follow their behaviour – so if you’re the first person to drop, cover, and hold, you’re being a responsible leader.”
Our annual Request for Proposals (RfP) supports eighteen-month, Associate Investigator led research projects that complement the Coordinated Research Projects within the Disciplinary Themes (DT) and Inter-disciplinary Projects (IP) of QuakeCoRE's Research Programme.
The RfP includes Proposal Development Grants which enable early career researchers to develop strong contestable external research proposals.
The annual call for RfP Projects and Proposal Development Grants is held in September / October and is announced on the QuakeCoRE website and in our newsletter.
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