Efficient risk communication is a vital way to reduce the vulnerability of individuals when facing emergency risks, especially regarding earthquakes. Efficient risk communication aims at improving the supply of risk information and fulfilling the need for risk information by individuals. Therefore, an investigation into individual-level information seeking behavior within earthquake risk contexts is very important for improved earthquake risk communication. However, at present there are very few studies that have explored the behavior of individuals seeking earthquake risk information. Under the guidance of the Risk Information Seeking and Processing model as well as relevant practical findings using the structural equation model, this study attempts to explore the main determinants of an individual’s earthquake risk information seeking behavior, and to validate the mediator effect of information need during the seeking process. A questionnaire-based survey of 918 valid respondents in Songyuan, China, who had been hit by a small earthquake swarm, was used to provide practical evidence for this study. Results indicated that information need played a noteworthy role in the earthquake risk information seeking process, and was detected both as an immediate predictor and as a mediator. Informational subjective norms drive the seeking behavior on earthquake risk information through both direct and indirect approaches. Perceived information gathering capacity, negative affective responses and risk perception have an indirect effect on earthquake risk information seeking behavior via information need. The implications for theory and practice regarding risk communication are discussed and concluded.
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