Trust, Social and Personal Attitudes after Wildfires in a Rural Region of Greece


We investigated the trust in institutions, social values and personal attitudes of individuals in a part of Greece, after a wildfire disaster. The design of the study was a cross sectional, case-control study. Data collected were trust in institutions, social and personal attitudes, type and number of losses. The results show that victims and controls have low trust in all the institutions and share similar social and personal attitudes. Controlling for other variables, victims of the wildfires were less likely to appreciate stable social rules, to value the dialogue, autonomy, mutual support, modesty, wealth, equality, compliance with law, devotion, public recognition, safety and less likely to trust the government but more likely to trust church. This study suggests that victims of the wildfires in Greece did not appreciate important social values which bring a society together, they have a low trust in institutions, and they have a weak social cohesion which perhaps pre-existed the disaster; just the disaster has made all of them worse.

Share and Cite:

Papanikolaou, V. , Adamis, D. , Mellon, R. , Prodromitis, G. & Kyriopoulos, J. (2012). Trust, Social and Personal Attitudes after Wildfires in a Rural Region of Greece. Sociology Mind, 2, 87-94. doi: 10.4236/sm.2012.21012.

Conflicts of Interest

The authors declare no conflicts of interest.


[1] Agrawal, S., Monroe, M. C., Jakes, P., Lang, E., Nelson, K., Kruger, L., & Sturtevant, V. (2008). Exploring social foundations that support community preparedness for wildfire. Celebrating Minority Professionals in Forestry and Natural Resources Conservation: Proceedings of the Symposium on the Tenth Anniversary of the 2 + 2 Joint Degree Program in Forestry and Natural Resources Conservation, 106, 55-58.
[2] Barton, A. H. (1969). Communities in disaster; A sociological analysis of collective stress situations (1st ed.). Garden City, NY: Doubleday.
[3] Bourdieu, P. (1986). The forms of capital. In J. G. Richardson (Ed.), Handbook of theory and research for the sociology of education (pp. 241-258). New York: Greenwood Press.
[4] Carroll, M. S., Higgins, L. L., Cohn, P. J., & Burchfield, J. (2006). Connnunity wildfire events as a source of social conflict. Rural Sociology, 71, 261-280. doi:10.1526/003601106777789701
[5] Christoforou, A. (2005). On the determinants of social capital in Greece compared to countries of the European Union working paper, Fondazione Eni Enrico Mattei.
[6] Clarke, D. M., & Kissane, D. W. (2002). Demoralization: Its phenomenology and importance. Australian and New Zealand Journal of Psychiatry, 36, 733-742. doi:10.1046/j.1440-1614.2002.01086.x
[7] Coleman, J. S. (1988). Social capital in the creation of human-capital. American Journal of Sociology, 94, S95-S120. doi:10.1086/228943
[8] Crocq, L., Doutheau, C., & Salham, M. (1987). Les reactions emotionnelles dans les catastrophes. Encyclopedie Medico-Chirurgicale. Psychiatrie (pp. 2-8). Paris: Techniques.
[9] de Figueiredo, J. M., & Frank, J. D. (1982). Subjective incompetence, the clinical hallmark of demoralization. Comprehensive Psychiatry, 23, 353-363. doi:10.1016/0010-440X(82)90085-2
[10] Derogatis, L. R. (1992). SCL-90-R: Administration, scoring & procedures manual -II, for the R (revised) version and other instruments of the psychopathology rating scale series (2nd ed.). Towson, MD: Clinical Psychometric Research.
[11] Donias, S., Karastergiou, A., & Manos, N. (1991). Standardization of the symptom checklist 90 rating scale in a Greek population. Psychiatriki, 2, 42-48.
[12] Dynes, R. (2002). The Importance of social capital in disaster response. Newark: Disaster Research Center, University of Delaware.
[13] Dynes, R., & Quarantelli, E. L. (1980). Helping behavior in large-scale disasters. In D. H. Smith, & J. Macaulay (Eds.), Participation in social and political activities (pp. 339-354). San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.
[14] EM-DAT (2008). The OFDA/CRED International Disaster Database Prevention Web. Retrieved 15/9/2010
[15] Evans, M. D., & Rollins, K. (2008). The fire last time: Trust, social integration, and responses to disaster management. Paper presented at the annual meeting of the Rural Sociological Society, Manchester.
[16] Fukuyama, F. (2001). Social capital, civil society and development. Third World Quarterly, 22, 7-20. doi:10.1080/713701144
[17] Galea, S., Tracy, M., Norris, F., & Coffey, S. F. (2008). Financial and social circumstances and the incidence and course of PTSD in Mississippi during the first two years after Hurricane Katrina. Journal of Traumatic Stress, 21, 357-368. doi:10.1002/jts.20355
[18] Jalali, R. (2002). Civil society and the state: Turkey after the earthquake. Disasters, 26, 120-139. doi:10.1111/1467-7717.00196
[19] Jones, N., Malesios, C., Iosifides, T., & Sophoulis, C. M. (2008). Social capital in Greece: Measurement and comparative perspectives. South European Society and Politics, 13, 175-193. doi:10.1080/13608740802156687
[20] Kaniasty, K., & Norris, F. H. (1993). A test of the social support deterioration model in the context of natural disaster. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 64, 395-408. doi:10.1037/0022-3514.64.3.395
[21] Kawachi, I., & Subramanian, S. V. (2006). Measuring and modeling the social and geographic context of trauma: A multilevel modeling approach. Journal of Traumatic Stress, 19, 195-203. doi:10.1002/jts.20108
[22] Kirmayer, J. L., Sehdev, M., Whitley, R., Dandeneau, F. S., & Isaac, C. (2009). Community resilience: Models, metaphors and measures. Journal of Aboriginal Health, 5, 62-117.
[23] Lazarus, R. S., & Folkman, S. (1984). Stress, appraisal, and coping. New York: Springer Pub. Co.
[24] Leighton, A. H. (1959). My name is legion; foundations for a theory of man in relation to culture. New York: Basic Books.
[25] Lopez-Ibor, J. J. (2006). Disasters and mental health: New challenges for the psychiatric profession. World Journal of Biological Psychiatry, 7, 171-182. doi:10.1080/15622970500428735
[26] Lyberaki, A., & Paraskevopoulos, J. C. (2002). Social capital measurement in Greece. Paper presented at the International Conference on Social Capital Measurement.
[27] Mellon, R. C., Papanikolau, V., & Prodromitis, G. (2009). Locus of control and psychopathology in relation to levels of trauma and loss: Self-reports of Peloponnesian wildfire survivors. Journal of Traumatic Stress, 22, 189-196. doi:10.1002/jts.20411
[28] Miller, L. M. (2007). Collective disaster responses to Katrina and Rita: Exploring therapeutic. Community, social capital, and social control. Southern Rural Sociology, 22, 45-63.
[29] Montgomery, K., Jordens, C. F. C., & Little, M. (2008). How vulnerability and trust interact during extreme events—Insights for human service agencies and organizations. Administration & Society, 40, 621-644. doi:10.1177/0095399708321670
[30] Newton, K., & Norris, P. (2000). Confidence in public institutions: Faith, culture, or performance? In S. Pharr, & R. Putnam (Eds.), Disaffected democracies: What’s troubling the trilateral countries? (pp. 52-73). Princeton: Princeton University Press.
[31] Panagiotopoulou, R., & Papliakou, V. (2007). Facets of social capital formation in Greece. In T. Kafetzis, T. Maloutas, & I. Tsiganou (Eds.), Politics, society and citizens: Data analysis of the European social survey (pp. 220-267). Athens: EKKE.
[32] Papadimitriou, V. (2007). Family is a supporting system for the 60% of young people. Apogeumatini tis Kyriakis, 18-19. (Newspaper article, November 2, 2007)
[33] Papanikolaou, V., Adamis, D., Mellon, C. R., & Prodromitis, G. (2011). Psychological distress following wildfires disaster in a rural part of Greece: A case-control population-based study. International Journal of Emergency Mental Health, 13.
[34] Parson, E. R. (1990). Post-Traumatic Demoralization Syndrome (PTDS). Journal of Contemporary Psychotherapy, 20, 17-33. doi:10.1007/BF00946017
[35] Paton, D., Houghton, B. F., Gregg, C. E., McIvor, D., Johnston, D. M., Burgelt, P., & Horan, J. (2009). Managing Tsunami risk: Social context influences on preparedness. Journal of Pacific Rim Psychology, 3, 27-37. doi:10.1375/prp.3.1.27
[36] Putnam, R. D., Leonardi, R., & Nanetti, R. (1993). Making democracy work: Civic traditions in modern Italy. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.
[37] Quinn, S. C. (2006). Hurricane Katrina: A social and public health disaster. American Journal of Public Health, 96, 204. doi:10.2105/AJPH.2005.080119
[38] Rolfe, R. E. (2006). Social cohesion and community resilience: A multidisciplinary review of literature for rural health research. Halifax: Department of International Development Studies Faculty of Graduate Studies and Research Saint Mary’s University.
[39] Sakamoto, M., & Yamory, K. (2009). A study of life recovery and social capital regarding disaster victims—A case study of Indian Ocean Tsunami and central Java Earthquake recovery. Journal of Natural Disaster Science, 21, 13-20.
[40] Schellong, A. (2007). Increasing social capital for disaster response through Social Networking Services (SNS) in Japanese local governments. J. W. Goethe-University, Frankfurt am Main Harvard University.
[41] Sotiropoulos, A. D., & Karamagioli, E. (2005). Greek civil society: The Long road to maturity. Civicus Civil Society Index Shortened Assessment Tool Report for the Case of Greece (pp. 1-5), Athens: Access Democracy.
[42] Turner, B. A. (1978). Man-made disasters. London: Wykeham Publications.
[43] Wallis, J. (2006). Quoted in Quinn, S. C. Hurricane Katrina: A social and public health disaster. American Journal of Public Health, 96, 204.

Copyright © 2024 by authors and Scientific Research Publishing Inc.

Creative Commons License

This work and the related PDF file are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.