Research and Creative Activity: Risk Perception of Severe Weather Warnings

Jan 31, 2018

Dr. Cory Armstrong, department chair of journalism and creative media, has been awarded a research grant of $10,000 from the Mississippi-Alabama Sea Grant Consortium.

The grant funds an examination of risk perception and behavioral intention in rural and urban communities in both Alabama and Mississippi.

Dr. Cory Armstrong

“The first thing we want to know is how people receive severe weather notifications—are they watching television, are they talking to their friends or are they checking social media?” said Armstrong. “Then we want to try and determine what specific words and visuals motivate them to action and what steps they take to prepare for severe weather.”

The study will test six different types of weather simulations often employed by broadcast meteorologists on volunteer participants in Biloxi, Pearlington, Mobile and Magnolia Springs. The participants will answer survey questions aimed at determining the effectiveness of each simulation.

Armstrong will use this research in developing guides for broadcasters, media personnel and meteorologists about effective ways to reach rural populations during severe weather outbreaks.

“The biggest outcome of the research will be the best practices recommended to broadcasters for how to most effectively inform the public,” said Armstrong. “If we can point out the key words and methods for how to announce severe weather then ultimately we can help to save lives.”

Chandra Clark
Dr. Chandra Clark

Journalism and creative media assistant professor, Dr. Chandra Clark will work alongside Armstrong in this study. Additionally, ABC 33/40 Chief Meteorologist James Spann will support the research by creating video simulations used in the study and offering his expertise as a weather expert.

The National Sea Grant College Program, administered by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), is a federal/state partnership that matches NOAA Sea Grant expertise and resources with state academic institutions. The Mississippi-Alabama Sea Grant Consortium (MASGC), created in 1972, is one of 33 Sea Grant programs. To learn more about the MASGC, visit their website.

The College of Communication and Information Sciences’ faculty and students at The University of Alabama conduct cutting-edge research that creates knowledge and provides solutions to global issues across the full communication and information spectrum. To learn more about its research initiatives, visit