FIBER Ph.D. student studies Psycholinguistics within Emergency communication

Psycholinguistics is a field in behaviorism science that was established by George Miller to study the psychological impact of languages on the human mind. Specific research and application of psycholinguistics in emergency communication are limited, where it is often purely analyzed under language barriers. Amer Hamad Issa Abukhalaf, FIBER Ph.D. candidate and Dr. Jason von Meding to develop new knowledge about Psycholinguistic in emergency communication through highlighting some of the communication gaps that are usually overlooked in emergency planning, and provide some recommendations in order to improve the overall emergency communication systems by reconsidering the way we look at language as an important psychosocial factor that impacts vulnerable communities.

Previous research studies in psychology, linguistics, and emergency communication were critically analyzed, and a qualitative methodology, involving semi-structured interviews with ten subjects from Gainesville, Florida, who speak English as a second language, was chosen in order to provide a flexible approach to broadly explore the phenomenon that is being studied. This study provided insights into one main research question: how can different languages influence our understanding of emergency notification? 5 main themes were found; gaps in direct translation, variations in emotional impact, variations in grammatical language structure, fusion attitudes, and lack of technical terminology.

Behind overcoming obstacles in emergency communication, there is a real opportunity to improve our overall understanding of human behavior during disasters. Providing new insight into this complex area of study will awaken new questions in behaviorism, and create new opportunities for future research that will improve the current emergency communication strategies and the overall disaster risk management.

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