Date of Award

Fall 2021

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Science (DSc) in Emergency Management


Emergency Management

Committee Chair

Chongming Wang


This dissertation assesses the influence of the three types of social capital (bonding, bridging, and linking) on the risk attitude of traditional undergraduate students (under 25 years old who enroll directly from high school, attend full-time, and do not have major life and work responsibilities). The research is motivated by three research questions: (1) What is the risk attitude of traditional undergraduate students surveyed about COVID-19 (addicted, seeking, tolerant, averse, paranoid); (2) What are the social capital characteristics for traditional undergraduate respondents surveyed; and (3) What influence does social capital have on the risk attitude of traditional undergraduate students regarding COVID-19? To examine these questions, the study engaged an online survey with five universities in the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education and utilized chi-square tests and Spearman’s rho correlations to assess the risk attitude/social capital relationship. Data showed that students with a high level of bonding and linking were more risk-averse while those with a high level of bridging were more risk-seeking/addicted. The study shows how emergency managers and risk communicators should develop their relationships with students and their networks to further engage them with disaster information or education informed by these insights.



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