We assessed public response to an earthquake prediction for the San Francisco Bay Area on a sample of households from eight Bay Area counties. Descriptive findings suggested that an earthquake culture exists in the study population. We tested criticisms of interactionist theory — its failure to take motives for behavior and social position into account — using multiple regression analysis. We conclude that motives and social position matter little in determining social action, and that more work is needed to determine how variations in new information create ambiguity, which differentially fosters searching, the formation of alternative definitions, and subsequent action.

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