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Emotional and behavioural responses to the 19 September 2017 earthquake: the case of the occupants of three multi-storey buildings

Jaime Santos-Reyes (SARACS, SEPI-ESIME, Zac., Instituto Politécnico Nacional, Mexico City, Mexico)
Tatiana Gouzeva (SARACS, SEPI-ESIME, Zac., Instituto Politécnico Nacional, Mexico City, Mexico)

Disaster Prevention and Management

ISSN: 0965-3562

Article publication date: 4 May 2021

Issue publication date: 8 July 2021

132

Abstract

Purpose

Studies on human behaviour during a seismic emergency in tall buildings are scant. During such emergencies, occupants need to reach a safe place. The purpose of this paper is to address some of the emotional and behavioural responses of the occupants of three multi-storey buildings during the 19 September earthquake that hit Mexico City in 2017.

Design/methodology/approach

A cross-sectional and non-probability study was conducted using a questionnaire-based survey; the sample size was n = 352, and the study was conducted from 4 October to 20 November 2017.

Findings

(1) In the 11 storey-building, women, age (18–49 years old [yo]) and participants with higher education exhibited flight behaviour, and those of the six storey-building within the age category 18–49 yo also exhibited a similar behaviour; (2) Women and age (18–49 yo) in the six and 11-storey buildings were significantly associated with fear of the earthquake; (3) Women were significantly more fearful and felt more intense the tremors than men in the 11-storey building; (4) Women were significantly more fearful of the 11-storey building collapsing; (5) The taller the building, the more fearful were the occupants of the building collapsing.

Research limitations/implications

First, the sample considered in the study was no probability; consequently, the results should not be generalised to the existing high-rising buildings in Mexico City. Second, some of the variables considered herein were of the Likert-type scale but have been assumed as continuous; in fact, some future work could be the design of a valid and reliable questionnaire to address human behaviour during earthquakes in tall buildings.

Practical implications

The presented results may be the great value to key decision-makers on how to address the lack of earthquake preparedness during a seismic emergency. Further, the results have shed light on the negative emotions (fear) experienced by the occupants of tall buildings.

Social implications

Gaining a better understanding of human behavioural in tall buildings is essential in devising measures to mitigate the impact of earthquake disasters.

Originality/value

Research on human behaviour during a seismic emergency in high-rise buildings is scant. To gain a better understanding of human emotional and behavioural response to earthquakes in tall buildings, it becomes necessary to conduct research such as the present case study. This may help decision-makers to devise measures so that the impact of earthquake disasters may be limited.

Keywords

Acknowledgements

This project was funded by CONACYT (Consejo Nacional de Ciencia y Tecnología) and SIP-IPN under the following grants: CONACYT-No: 248219 and SIP-IPN: No-20210785. The author wishes to acknowledge the multidisciplinary research team, external experts and those who helped to conduct the survey, many of whom provided valuable discussions. Also, thanks to the anonymous journal reviewers for their helpful and insightful comments.

Citation

Santos-Reyes, J. and Gouzeva, T. (2021), "Emotional and behavioural responses to the 19 September 2017 earthquake: the case of the occupants of three multi-storey buildings", Disaster Prevention and Management, Vol. 30 No. 3, pp. 412-428. https://doi.org/10.1108/DPM-09-2020-0280

Publisher

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Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2021, Emerald Publishing Limited

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