Doctoral Dissertations

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Communication and Information

Major Professor

Elizabeth A. Foster

Committee Members

Michael J. Palenchar, Abbey B. Levenshus, Jennifer A. Morrow


This study develops a valid and reliable self-efficacy scale specific to the crisis context. The rationale for developing the scale is first to provide a tool for crisis communication researchers to better understand behavioral aspects of crisis. Second, as people have different levels of crisis self-efficacy, it is difficult for crisis managers to develop audience-specific messages and create crisis preparedness programs. A crisis self-efficacy scale enables crisis managers to develop more effective message strategies to protect publics and minimize crisis damage. The scale also provides practitioners a useful longitudinal index of progress in crisis preparedness programs to track changes in public efficacy during the intervention.

The results of the scale development identify four constructs of crisis self-efficacy: action efficacy, preventive efficacy, achievement efficacy, and uncertainty management efficacy. Each construct measures a unique aspect of crisis self-efficacy. Specifically, the action efficacy reflects one’s beliefs about his/her ability to take protective actions in crisis, while preventive efficacy is defined as one’s beliefs about his/her level of preparedness for crisis. Next, achievement efficacy is defined as one’s beliefs about his/her goal accomplishment in crisis, and uncertainty management efficacy is one’s beliefs about his/her ability to deal with uncertainties in crisis.

People’s demographic information is tested to examine indicators of crisis self-efficacy. Three predictors are identified: gender, household income, and state residency. First, the results reveal that there is a gender difference in crisis self-efficacy; males have higher crisis self-efficacy levels than females. Next, there is a trend in the relationship between household income and crisis self-efficacy; as income goes up, the level of crisis self-efficacy also rises. Finally, state residency predicts individual’s crisis self-efficacy when the number of disasters in participants’ states is considered. Theoretical and practical implications are discussed, and directions for future research are identified.

Files over 3MB may be slow to open. For best results, right-click and select "save as..."