Self-aid and mutual assistance among victims are critical for resolving difficulties in the immediate aftermath of a disaster, but individual facilitative factors for such resolution processes are poorly understood. To identify such individual factors in the background (i.e., disaster damage and demographic) and personality domains considering different types of difficulty and resolution, we analyzed survey data collected in the 3-year aftermath of the 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake and Tsunami. We first identified major types of difficulty using a cluster analysis of 18 difficulty domains and then explored individual factors that facilitated six types of resolution (self-help, request for help, help from family, help from an acquaintance, help through cooperation, and public assistance) of these difficulty types. We identified general life difficulties and medico-psychological difficulties as two broad types of difficulty; disaster damage contributed to both types, while some personality factors (e.g., neuroticism) exacerbated the latter. Disaster damage hampered self-resolution and forced a reliance on resolution through cooperation or public assistance. On the other hand, some demographic factors, such as being young and living in a three-generation household, facilitated resolution thorough the family. Several personality factors facilitated different types of resolution, primarily of general life difficulties; the problem-solving factor facilitated self-resolution, altruism, or stubbornness resolutions through requests, leadership resolution through acquaintance, and emotion-regulation resolution through public assistance. Our findings are the first to demonstrate the involvement of different individual, particularly personality, factors in survival in the complex social dynamics of this disaster stage. They may contribute to disaster risk mitigation, allowing sophisticated risk evaluation and community resilience building.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere0258325
JournalPLoS ONE
Issue number10 October
Publication statusPublished - 2021 Oct


Dive into the research topics of 'Self-help and mutual assistance in the aftermath of a tsunami: How individual factors contribute to resolving difficulties'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this