Theses and Dissertations

Issuing Body

Mississippi State University


Sherman-Morris, Kathleen

Committee Member

Dyer, Jamie L.

Committee Member

Dixon, P. Grady

Date of Degree


Document Type

Graduate Thesis - Open Access


Professional Meteorology/Climatology

Degree Name

Master of Science


College of Arts and Sciences


Department of Geosciences


Previous research has suggested that misinterpretations of hurricane track forecasts can lead to errors in estimation of perceived risk. One factor that can be used to understand these errors in judgment of risk perception is called optimistic bias, in which an individual perceives that compared to another person they are at less risk. Thus, the purpose of this study was to examine how risk perceptions of hurricane track forecasts are influenced by the optimistic bias and changes in the forecasts. Students from three coastal universities took a survey regarding hurricane risk from two different track scenarios of a hypothetical hurricane approaching their university. Results indicated that optimism and perceptions of hurricane tracks were not correlated. Regardless of changes in forecast tracks, students perceived the same level of risk by the final forecast. This research has important social implications because hurricane track forecasts are part of the hurricane decision-making process.



optimism||graphical communication of risk||hurricane cone of uncertainty||risk perception