IOWA CITY, Iowa (CBS St. Louis) – Though a person’s optimism following a natural disaster doesn’t tend to wane, a person’s ability to improve emergency preparedness efforts is still weak in the wake of a disaster.

A new study has found that people living in an Iowa town recently hit by a tornado believe they are at less risk from future tornadoes than an average resident of the state. The study, published in the March 1 edition of Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, noted that the level of optimism among people living in areas devastated by a tornado was, in some cases, greater than that of people living in areas of the Iowa that had been unaffected by a tornado.

“We speculate that for a while, they felt that lightning wouldn’t strike twice in the same place,” study author Jerry Suls, a psychologist at the University of Iowa, said in a release. “A year later, their optimism was comparable to the people in the undamaged neighborhoods.”

But the increased optimism also leaves these people and towns vulnerable for being hit again, according to the study. By living in a community already battered by a tornado, the study notes that these residents could let their guards down in regard to preparing for another serious disaster.

“People tend to maintain an optimistic view, particularly with regard to their fate compared to other people,” Suls said. “Even the proximity of a significant weather disaster seems to do little to shake that optimism.”


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