Date of Award

Summer 2019

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


School of Public Service


Public Administration and Policy

Committee Director

Juita-Elena (Wie) Yusuf

Committee Member

David Chapman

Committee Member

Michelle Covi

Committee Member

Joshua Behr


The purpose of this dissertation research is to examine the multiple relationships that explain household adaptive behaviors to flooding, and if risk perceptions play a mediating role in these relationships. Given the shift in transferring risks from public flood risk governance structures to households, there is a renewed interest in promoting private adaptive behavior amongst households that are vulnerable to flood impacts. Currently, the literature purports that flood risk perceptions rarely account for the variance explained in statistical models that examine household adaptive behaviors. This study analyzed an integrated conceptual framework that explored the mediating role of risk perceptions. The population for this quantitative study is individual households in Portsmouth, Virginia. The integrated conceptual framework considers the assumptions of initial and extended Protection Motivation Theory frameworks. The conceptual framework was analyzed using mediation analysis and the potential outcomes framework to test the hypothesized direct and indirect causal effects of flood risk perceptions and household adaptive behaviors. Findings from this study suggest that flood risk perceptions mediate the relationship between several risk factors on household adaptive behavior (direct experience, indirect experience, knowledge of flooding, locus of responsibility, and race). Based on the results, causality can be inferred that a change in the specified risk factors leads to a change in flood risk perceptions, and a change in flood risk perceptions leads to a change in household adaptive behaviors.


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