JDR Vol.18 No.7 pp. 771-782
doi: 10.20965/jdr.2023.p0771


Adolescents’ Responses to the 2017 Puebla Earthquake in Mexico City

Jaime Santos-Reyes*,† ORCID Icon and Tatiana Gouzeva** ORCID Icon

*SEPI-ESIME, Zac., Instituto Politecnico Nacional
Alcaldía Gustavo A. Madero, Mexico City 07738, Mexico

Corresponding author

**SARACS Research Group, Instituto Politecnico Nacional
Mexico City, Mexico

November 8, 2022
June 22, 2023
October 1, 2023
adolescents, emotional response, behavioral response, 2017 Puebla earthquake

This paper presents the results of a cross-sectional study on adolescents’ behavioral and emotional reactions during and immediately after the 2017 Puebla earthquake that occurred in Mexico City. Convenience sampling was used to achieve a sample size of n=362. Some of the key findings are as follows: a) some 57.0% of adolescent women and over 60.0% of men “ran out of the building” during the earthquake; only 17.4% of women and 14.2% of men took shelter. Early and late adolescent women were significantly associated with building “evacuation” immediately after the earthquake. b) Early and late adolescent men were “surprised” by the earthquake occurrence. c) The perceived vulnerability of the city (PVC) was significantly associated with men but not with women. d) Adolescents exhibited strong information-seeking behavior regarding seismic risk. The results of the study highlight a lack of adolescents’ preparedness for earthquakes in terms of the protective actions taken during the ground shaking and knowledge of the functioning of the Mexican seismic alert system. An educational program aimed at better educating and preparing adolescents for a seismic emergency should be implemented in preparatory schools.

Cite this article as:
J. Santos-Reyes and T. Gouzeva, “Adolescents’ Responses to the 2017 Puebla Earthquake in Mexico City,” J. Disaster Res., Vol.18 No.7, pp. 771-782, 2023.
Data files:
  1. [1] International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRCS), “World disaster report 2001: Focus on recovery,” 2001. [Accessed January 30, 2022]
  2. [2] C. Kousky, “Impacts of natural disasters on children,” Future of Children, Vol.26, No.1, pp. 73-92, 2016.
  3. [3] C. Freeman, K. Nairn, and M. Gollop, “Disaster impact and recovery: What children and young people can tell us,” Kōtuitui: New Zealand J. of Social Sciences, Vol.10, No.2, pp. 103-115, 2015.
  4. [4] A. Sakurai, T. Sato, and Y. Murayama, “Impact evaluation of a school-based disaster education program in a city affected by the 2011 great East Japan earthquake and tsunami disaster,” Int. J. Disaster Risk Reduct., Vol.47, Article No.101632, 2020.
  5. [5] Unicef-Mexico, “El impacto de los terremotos en Mexico en los niños, niñas y adolescentes” (in Spanish).,%20ni%C3%B1as%20y%20adolescentes:%20hallazgos%20y%20recomendaciones%20para%20dar%20una%20mejor%20respuesta.pdf [Accessed May 30, 2022]
  6. [6] Ş. Ersoy and A. Koçak, “Disasters and earthquake preparedness of children and schools in Istanbul, Turkey,” Geomat. Nat. Hazards Risk, Vol.7, No.4, pp. 1307-1336, 2016.
  7. [7] B. Khanal, “The impacts of the 2015 Gorkha earthquake on children’s health in Nepal,” World Development, Vol.153, Article No.105826, 2022.
  8. [8] J. Okuyama, S. Funakoshi, S. Seto, Y. Fukuda, K. Ito, F. Imamura, and S. Izumi, “Importance pf psychological support for disaster-affected adolescents: 10 years after the Great East Japan earthquake,” J. Disaster Res., Vol.16, No.6, pp. 914-921, 2021.
  9. [9] H. Hernandez, “Padres de víctimas por sismo en Tec de Monterrey presentan queja ante CDH” (in Spanish). [Accessed August 9, 2022]
  10. [10] UNICEF 2023, “Recovering from earthquakes in Syria and Türkiye.” [Accessed March 9, 2023]
  11. [11] T. J. Huggins, L. Yang, J. Zhang, M. L. Tan, and R. Prasanna, “Psychological effects of dominant responses to early warning alerts,” Int. J. Ambient. Comput. Intell., Vol.12, No.3, pp. 1-15, 2021.
  12. [12] S. K. McBride, H. Smith, M. Morgoch, D. Sumy, M. Jenkins, L. Peek, A. Bostrom, D. Baldwin, E. Reddy, R. de Groot, J. Becker, D. Johnston, and M. Wood, “Evidence-based guidelines for protective actions and earthquake early warning systems,” Geophysics, Vol.87, No.1, Article No.1JF-WA102, 2022.
  13. [13] L. J. Vinnell, P. Inch, D. M. Johnston, M. Eeri, and N. Horspool, “Behavioral responses to earthquake shaking: Video footage analysis of the 2016 Kaikoura earthquake in Wellington, Aotearoa New Zealand,” Earthq. Spectra, Vol.38, No.3, pp. 1636-1660, 2022.
  14. [14] G. Prati, V. Catufi, and L. Pietrantoni, “Emotional and behavioural reactions to tremors of the Umbria-Marche earthquake,” Disasters, Vol.36, No.3, pp. 439-451, 2012.
  15. [15] A. R. Mawson, “Understanding mass panic and other collective responses to threat and disaster,” Psychiatry, Vol.68, No.2, pp. 95-113, 2002.
  16. [16] G. Prati, E. Saccinto, L. Pietrantoni, and C. Perez-Testor, “The 2012 Northern Italy earthquake: modelling human behaviour,” Nat. Hazards, Vol.69, pp. 99-113, 2013.
  17. [17] D. E. Alexander, “Behaviour during earthquakes: A southern Italian example,” Int. J. Mass Emerg. Disasters, Vol.8, No.1, pp. 5-29, 1990.
  18. [18] J. Santos-Reyes and T. Gouzeva, “Emotional and behavioural responses to the 19 September 2017 earthquake: The case of the occupants of three multi-storey buildings,” Disaster Prev. Manag., Vol.30, No.3, pp. 412-428, 2021.
  19. [19] J. Leach, “Why people ‘freeze’ in an emergency: Temporal and cognitive constrains on survival response,” Aviat. Space Environ. Med., Vol.75, No.6, pp. 539-542, 2004.
  20. [20] P. Slovic, M. L. Finucane, E. Peters, and D. G. MacGregor, “Risk as analysis and risk as feelings: Some thoughts about affect, reason, risk and rationality,” Risk Analysis, Vol.24, No.2, pp. 311-322, 2004.
  21. [21] A. Yildiz, R. Teeuw, J. Dickinson, and J. Roberts, “Children’s earthquake preparedness and risk perception: A comparative study of two cities in Turkey, using a modified PRISM approach,” Int. J. Disaster Risk Reduct., Vol.49, Article No.101666, 2020.
  22. [22] Y. Li and Y. Guo, “Be proactive for better decisions: Predicting information seeking in the context of earthquake risk,” Int. J. Disaster Risk Reduct., Vol.19, pp. 75-83, 2016.
  23. [23] D. S. Mileti and J. D. Darlington, “The Role of Searching in Shaping Reactions to Earthquake Risk Information,” Social Problems, Vol.44, No.1, pp. 89-103, 1997.
  24. [24] L. A. Kahlor, “An augmented risk information seeking model: The case of global warming,” Media Psychology, Vol.10, No.3, pp. 414-435, 2007.
  25. [25] L. A. Kahlor, “PRISM: a planned risk information seeking model,” Health Commun., Vol.25, No.4, pp. 345-356, 2010.
  26. [26] W. Kellens, R. Zaalberg, and P. De Maeyer, “The informed society: An analysis of the public’s information-seeking behaviour regarding coastal flood risk,” Risk Analysis, Vol.32, No.8, pp. 1369-1381, 2011.
  27. [27] M. Kievik and J. M. Gutteling, “Yes, we can: Motivate Dutch citizens to engage in self-protective behavior with regard to flood risks,” Nat. Hazards, Vol.59, pp. 1475-1490, 2011.
  28. [28] R. J. Griffin, S. Dunwoody, and K. Neuwirth, “Proposed model of the relationship of risk information seeking and processing to the development of preventive behaviours,” Environ. Res., Vol.80, No.2, Pt.2, pp. S230-S245, 1999.
  29. [29] N. H. Frijda, “The emotions,” Cambridge, England: Cambridge University Press, 1986.
  30. [30] P. Ekman, “An argument for basic emotions,” Cognition and Emotion, Vol.6, Nos.3-4, pp. 169-200, 1992.
  31. [31] M. K. Lindell, C. S. Prater, H. C. Wu, S.-K. Huang, D. M. Johnston, J. S. Becker, and H. Shiroshita, “Immediate behavioural responses to earthquakes in Christchurch, New Zealand, and Hitachi, Japan,” Disasters, Vol.40, No.1, pp. 85-111, 2016.
  32. [32] J. D. Goltz and L. B. Bourque, “Earthquakes and human behaviour: A sociological perspective,” Int. J. Disaster Risk Reduct., Vol.21, pp. 251-265, 2017.
  33. [33] N. Jaworska and G. MacQueen, “Adolescence as a unique developmental period,” J. Psychiatry Neurosci., Vol.40, No.5, pp. 291-293, 2015.
  34. [34] B. J. Casey, R. M. Jones, and T. A. Hare, “The adolescent brain,” Ann. N. Y. Acad. Sci., Vol.1124, pp. 111-126, 2008.
  35. [35] W. Tang, J. Zhao, Y. Lu, Y. Zha, H. Liu, Y. Sun, J. Zhang, Y. Yang, and J. Xu, “Suicidality, posttraumatic stress, and depressive reactions after earthquake and maltreatment: A cross-sectional survey of a random sample of 6132 Chinese children and adolescents,” J. Affect. Disord., Vol.232, pp. 363-369, 2018.
  36. [36] K. Sato, R. Kimura, and S. Ohtomo, “Typology of Learning Contents in ‘Supplementary Textbook for Disaster Prevention Education’ – What Are Teachers in the Areas Affected by the Great Hanshin-Awaji Earthquake in 1995, and the Great East Japan Earthquake in 2011, Striving to Teach Students in Junior High School?,” J. Disaster Res., Vol.16, No.4, pp. 794-812, 2021.
  37. [37] M. Petal, K. Ronan, G. Ovington, and M. Tofa, “Child-centred risk reduction and school safety: An evidence-based practice framework and roadmap,” Int. J. Disaster Risk Reduct., Vol.49, Article No.101633, 2020.
  38. [38] K. R. Ronan, E. Alisic, B. Towers, V. A. Johnson, and D. M. Johnston, “Disaster preparedness for children and families: A critical review,” Curr. Psychiatry Rep., Vol.17, No.7, Article No.58, 2015.
  39. [39] V. A. Johnson, K. R. Ronan, D. M. Johnston, and R. Peace, “Improving the impact and implementation of disaster education: programs for children through theory-based evaluation,” Risk Analysis, Vol.36, No.11, pp. 2120-2135, 2016.
  40. [40] Y. Lu, D. Yang, Y. Niu, H. Zhang, B. Du, and X. Jiang, “Factors associated with the resilience of Tibetan adolescent survivors five years after the 2010 Yushu earthquake,” PloS One, Vol.15, No.4, Article No.e0231736, 2017.
  41. [41] D. Raccanello, R. Burro, and R. Hall, “Children’s emotional experience two years after an earthquake: An exploration of knowledge of earthquakes and associated emotions,” PloS One, Vol.12, No.12, Article No.e0189633, 2017.
  42. [42] R. Wang, L. Wang, Z. Li, C. Cao, Z. Shi, and J. Zhang, “Latent structure of posttraumatic stress disorder symptoms in an adolescent sample one month after an earthquake,” J. Adolesc., Vol.36, No.4, pp. 717-725, 2013.
  43. [43] P. Stratta, C. Capanna, C. Carmassi, S. Patriarca, G. Di Emidio, I. Riccardi, A. Collazzoni, L. Dell’Osso, and A. Rossi, “The adolescent emotional coping after an earthquake: A risk factor for suicidal ideation,” J. Adolesc., Vol.37, No.5, pp. 605-611, 2014.
  44. [44] X. Shi, Y. Zhou, and F. Fan, “Longitudinal trajectories and predictors of anxiety symptoms among adolescent survivors exposed to Wenchuan earthquake,” J. Adolesc., Vol.53, pp. 55-63, 2016.
  45. [45] G. F. Loewenstein, E. U. Weber, C. K. Hsee, and N. Welch, “Risk as feelings,” Psychol. Bull., Vol.127, No.2, pp. 267-286, 2001.
  46. [46] J. S. Lerner, Y. Li, P. Valdesolo, and K. S. Kassam, “Emotion and decision making,” Annu. Rev. Psychol., Vol.66, pp. 799-823, 2015.
  47. [47] K. W. Franke, G. Candia, J. M. Mayoral, C. M. Wood, J. Montgomery, T. Hutchinson, and A. C. Morales-Velez, “Observed building damage patterns and foundation performance in Mexico City following the 2017 M7.1 Puebla-Mexico City earthquake,” Soil Dyn. Earthq. Eng., Vol.125, Article No.105708, 2019.
  48. [48] Centro de Instrumentación y Registro Sísmico (CIRES), “Sismo del 19 de septiembre de 2017,” Boletin del Sistema de Alerta Sísmica Mexicano (SASMEX) (in Spanish). [Accessed June 9, 2021]
  49. [49] United States Geological Survey (USGS), “Puebla earthquake.” (Public domain) [Accessed June 25, 2021]
  50. [50] L. Rong-Gong, “It was a Mexico City office building. Now, after the earthquake, it’s a tomb,” Los Angeles Times. [Accessed June 25, 2021]
  51. [51] E. R. Mega, “Deadly Mexico earthquake had unusual cause,” Nature, Vol.549, 2017.
  52. [52] A. Cuéllar, G. Suárez, and J. M. Espinosa-Aranda, “Performance evaluation and classification algorithm 2(ts-tp) of the seismic alert system of Mexico (SASMEX),” Bull. Seismol. Soc. Am., Vol.107, No.3, pp. 1451-1463, 2017.
  53. [53] S. Hidalgo and A. Lajous, “11 Segundos Vitales: ¿Por Qué No Sonó a Tiempo La Alerta Sísmica El 19 Septiembre?” (in Spanish). [Accessed June 25, 2021]
  54. [54] J. Santos-Reyes, “How useful are earthquake early warning systems? The case of the 2017 earthquakes in Mexico city,” Int. J. Disaster Risk Reduct., Vol.40, Article No.101148, 2019.
  55. [55] D. Vicenteño, “Listas, 98% de las escuelas afectadas por sismos de septiembre,” (in Spanish). [Accessed June 25, 2021]
  56. [56] Huffpost, “Estas impactantes fotos aéreas muestran el antes y después de edificios caídos en el terremoto del 19s,” (in Spanish). [Accessed April 15, 2021]
  57. [57] Arena Publica, ““En caso de sismo, no cruce el puente”. Lo que ocurrió en el Tec de Monterrey,” (in Spanish). [Accessed June 28, 2021]
  58. [58] The New York Times, “A year after Mexico earthquake, parents demand justice.” [Accessed July 9, 2020]
  59. [59] E. Irwanssyah, S. Hartati, and Hartono, “Three-Stage Fuzzy Rule-Based Model for Earthquake Non-Engineered Building House Damage Hazard Determination,” J. Adv. Comput. Intell. Inform., Vol.21, No.7, pp. 1298-1311, 2017.
  60. [60] World Health Organization (WHO), “Orientation programme on adolescent health for health care providers.” [Accessed June 25, 2022]
  61. [61] M. K. Lindell and R. W. Perry, “The protective action decision making model: theoretical modifications and additional evidence,” Risk Analysis, Vol.32, No.4, pp. 616-632, 2012.
  62. [62] A. Agresti and B. Finlay, “Statistical method for the social sciences (2nd edition),” San Francisco, CA: Dellen, 1986.
  63. [63] Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México (UNAM), “Qué hacer en sismo. 2021,” (in Spanish). [Accessed June 20, 2021]
  64. [64] J. M. Cullell, “What’s the probability of three earthquakes hitting Mexico City on the date September 19?” [Accessed March 9, 2023]
  65. [65] S. Doocy, A. Daniels, C. Packer, A. Dick, and T. D. Kirsch, “The human impact of earthquakes: a historical review of events 1980–2009 and systematic literature review,” PLoS Curr., Vol.16, No.5, Article No.23857161, 2013.
  66. [66] A. W. Coburn, R. J. S. Spence, and A. Pomonis, “Factors determining human casualty levels in earthquakes: Mortality prediction in building collapse,” Proc. 10th World Earthq. Eng., Vol.10, pp. 5989-5994, 1992.
  67. [67] J. E. Milam, S. Sussman, A. Ritt-Olson, and C. W. Dent, “Perceived invulnerability and cigarette smoking among adolescents,” Addict. Behav., Vol.25, No.1, pp. 71-80, 2000.
  68. [68] R. D. Ravert, S. J. Schwartz, B. L. Zamboanga, S. Y. Kim, R. S. Weisskirch, and M. Bersamin, “Sensation seeking and danger invulnerability: Paths to college student risk-taking,” Pers. Individ. Differ., Vol.47, No.7, pp. 763-768, 2009.
  69. [69] B. E. Whitley and A. L. Hern, “Perceptions of vulnerability to pregnancy and the use of effective contraception,” Pers. Soc. Psychol. Bull., Vol.17, No.1, pp. 104-110, 1991.
  70. [70] J. M. Burger and L. Burns, “The illusion of unique invulnerability and the use of effective contraception,” Pers. Soc. Psychol. Bull., Vol.14, No.2, pp. 264-270, 1988.
  71. [71] M. J. Quadrel, B. Fischhoff, and W. Davis, “Adolescent (in)vulnerability,” Am. Psychol., Vol.48, No.2, pp. 102-116, 1993.
  72. [72] R. Beyth-Marom, L. Austin, B. Fischhoff, C. Palmgreen, and M. Quadrel, “Perceived consequences of risky behaviour: Adolescents and adults,” Dev. Psychol., Vol.29, No.3, pp. 549-563, 1993.
  73. [73] E. J. Johnson, J. Hershey, J. Meszaros, and H. Kunreuther, “Framing, Probability distortions, and insurance decisions,” J. Risk Uncertain., Vol.7, pp. 35-51, 1993.
  74. [74] M. J. Browne and R. E. Hoyt, “The demand for flood insurance: Empirical evidence,” J. Risk Uncertain., Vol.20, pp. 271-289, 2000.
  75. [75] R. A. Harshman and A. Paivio, “Paradoxical sex differences in self-reported imagery,” Can. J. Psychol., Vol.41, pp. 303-316, 1987.
  76. [76] W. A. Afifi and J. L. Weiner, “Toward a theory of motivated information management,” Commun. Theory, Vol.14, No.2, pp. 167-190, 2004.
  77. [77] I. Ajzen, “The theory of planned behaviour,” Organ. Behav. Hum. Decis. Process, Vol.50, No.2, pp. 179-211, 1992.
  78. [78] G. Godin and G. Kok, “The theory of planned behaviour: a review of its applications to health-related behaviours,” Am. J. Health Promot., Vol.11, No.2, pp. 87-98, 1996.

*This site is desgined based on HTML5 and CSS3 for modern browsers, e.g. Chrome, Firefox, Safari, Edge, Opera.

Last updated on Nov. 24, 2023