Publication Date


Document Type


First Advisor

Ashley, Walker S.

Second Advisor

Gallaher, Courtney M.

Degree Name

M.S. (Master of Science)

Legacy Department

Department of Earth, Atmosphere and Environment


Small Island Developing States (SIDS) face high vulnerability to natural hazards. Understanding risk perception in SIDS is an essential step towards reducing vulnerability on these at-risk island states. A case study in the Eastern Caribbean's Commonwealth of Dominica, which has a notable volcanic risk, is used to explore risk perception. Specifically, focus groups were conducted in 18 villages throughout Dominica where participants produced hand-colored maps to show where they believed volcanic risk existed on the island and shared their reasoning behind their maps.

Surveys were administered to all focus group participants to collect necessary socio-demographic information. Subsequently, participant’s hand-drawn maps were converted to raster images and aggregated to various configurations using a raster calculator. The explanations of their maps were transcribed, coded, and analyzed qualitatively using a grounded theory approach to identify trends in thought processes among demographic groups. Analyses conducted included: modeled vs. perceived risk, gender, distance from volcanic hazards, education levels, and age. Statistical analyses were applied to determine if the difference in risk perception between groups were significant.

When composite risk maps of the entire island were analyzed to examine differences in risk perceptions among demographic groups, the gender of the participants was the only statistically significant factor. However, different demographic groups perceived portions of the island to have significantly higher volcanic risk. For instance, the far north of the island for participants who had been to college, portions of the western coast for participants living more than 6km form a volcanic peak, and a section of the south east for participants aged between 40 and 50. Understanding the demographic variables that have the most considerable influence on risk perception facilitates the development of better, and more tailored public outreach campaigns that could save lives when the next hazard threatens Dominica.


112 pages




Northern Illinois University

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In Copyright

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NIU theses are protected by copyright. They may be viewed from Huskie Commons for any purpose, but reproduction or distribution in any format is prohibited without the written permission of the authors.

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