Presentation Title

Perceived Responsibility of Natural Disaster Victims’ and our Willingness to Assist

Format of Presentation

Poster to be presented the Friday of the conference

Abstract

In this study we examined people’s perceptions of natural disaster victims and the impact of these perceptions on willingness to help and judgements of responsibility. Weiner (1995) asserted that deciding to offer assistance involves an attributional process; victims perceived as less responsible for their predicament are more likely to evoke more sympathy and aid than victims perceived to be responsible for their predicament. Marjanovic et al. (2009, 2012) found that people’s beliefs of victims’ preparedness impacted their perceptions of victim responsibility and the amount of help offered. Given these findings, we are hoping to potentiate these perceptions with changing post-disaster behaviours. The participants were students attending Thompson Rivers University. Participants read an article about the victims of hurricane Dorian, which occurred in 2019 in the Bahamas, followed by questions to measure their emotional response to the victims, perceptions of victims’ responsibility and their willingness to assist. The article, adapted from Marjanovic (2009, 2012), depicted victims as either cooperative, responsible and helpless to the events or as uncooperative and having partial responsibility for the impact of the aftermath. Victims are also depicted as either continuing similar behaviours they executed prior to the disaster or as seeking new technologies to better prepare for the future. We will present the results to test the prediction that victims described as being partially responsible for their situation with intent to continue inadequate preventative behaviours following the disaster will receive stronger judgements of responsibility and elicit less overall help than those perceived as less negligent.

Department

Psychology

Faculty Advisor

Sandra Vermeulen

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Perceived Responsibility of Natural Disaster Victims’ and our Willingness to Assist

In this study we examined people’s perceptions of natural disaster victims and the impact of these perceptions on willingness to help and judgements of responsibility. Weiner (1995) asserted that deciding to offer assistance involves an attributional process; victims perceived as less responsible for their predicament are more likely to evoke more sympathy and aid than victims perceived to be responsible for their predicament. Marjanovic et al. (2009, 2012) found that people’s beliefs of victims’ preparedness impacted their perceptions of victim responsibility and the amount of help offered. Given these findings, we are hoping to potentiate these perceptions with changing post-disaster behaviours. The participants were students attending Thompson Rivers University. Participants read an article about the victims of hurricane Dorian, which occurred in 2019 in the Bahamas, followed by questions to measure their emotional response to the victims, perceptions of victims’ responsibility and their willingness to assist. The article, adapted from Marjanovic (2009, 2012), depicted victims as either cooperative, responsible and helpless to the events or as uncooperative and having partial responsibility for the impact of the aftermath. Victims are also depicted as either continuing similar behaviours they executed prior to the disaster or as seeking new technologies to better prepare for the future. We will present the results to test the prediction that victims described as being partially responsible for their situation with intent to continue inadequate preventative behaviours following the disaster will receive stronger judgements of responsibility and elicit less overall help than those perceived as less negligent.