This study develops a valid and reliable self-efficacy scale specific to the crisis context. The rationale for developing the scale is first to provide a tool for crisis communication researchers to better understand behavioral aspects of crisis. Second, as people have different levels of crisis self-efficacy, it is difficult for crisis managers to develop audience-specific messages and create crisis preparedness programs. A crisis self-efficacy scale enables crisis managers to develop more effective message strategies to protect publics and minimize crisis damage. The scale also provides practitioners a useful longitudinal index of progress in crisis preparedness programs to track changes in public efficacy during the intervention.
The results of the scale development identify four constructs of crisis self-efficacy: action efficacy, preventive efficacy, achievement efficacy, and uncertainty management efficacy. Each construct measures a unique aspect of crisis self-efficacy. Specifically, the action efficacy reflects one’s beliefs about his/her ability to take protective actions in crisis, while preventive efficacy is defined as one’s beliefs about his/her level of preparedness for crisis. Next, achievement efficacy is defined as one’s beliefs about his/her goal accomplishment in crisis, and uncertainty management efficacy is one’s beliefs about his/her ability to deal with uncertainties in crisis.
People’s demographic information is tested to examine indicators of crisis self-efficacy. Three predictors are identified: gender, household income, and state residency. First, the results reveal that there is a gender difference in crisis self-efficacy; males have higher crisis self-efficacy levels than females. Next, there is a trend in the relationship between household income and crisis self-efficacy; as income goes up, the level of crisis self-efficacy also rises. Finally, state residency predicts individual’s crisis self-efficacy when the number of disasters in participants’ states is considered. Theoretical and practical implications are discussed, and directions for future research are identified.