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Matthew S. Davis, Ph.D.

Dr. Davis is originally from Massachusetts where he earned his BA in Psychology. He earned his MA in Experimental Social Psychology in Virginia, and came to California in 1982 to complete his doctoral work in the interdisciplinary field of Social Ecology, with a focus on both Social Psychology and on the geological processes that create earthquakes and volcanoes. After teaching at several campuses of the California State University system, Dr. Davis began teaching full-time at Dominican in 1994. He regularly teaches courses in social psychology, social influence, statistics and research, human sexuality, media psychology, and a specialty course called Natural Disasters: Societal & Individual Reactions to Risk. In 2011 he developed a new course on the Psychology of Travel. His nickname on campus is “Disasterman” and he has completed two large-scale research projects on public awareness of volcanic hazards in the vicinity of Mt. Vesuvius in Italy, as well as studies of risk perception for volcanic hazards at Mt. Rainier, Washington, and tsunami hazards along the northern California coast. Most recently he has been involved in research evaluating the psychological effects of participating in "Get Ready Marin" and CERT disaster preparedness training sessions here in Marin County. Matt loves to travel. He has visited all 50 of the United States and has driven across the country more than 25 times. He has also traveled extensively throughout Europe (including over a dozen separate trips to Italy), to several nations around the Pacific Rim, to Ecuador and Iceland, and most recently to Israel, Jordan, and Egypt. Matt shares his love of travel with his students and colleagues, having led a number of university trips to Greece, Italy, and Berlin & Prague. He is fairly fluent in Italian, has a passion for photography, travel writing, and many styles of music, displays a knack for finding great restaurants, and is an avid TV buff.

matt davis 2009Professor - Tenured
Psychology Department
Dominican University of California
50 Acacia Avenue
San Rafael, CA  94901
(415) 257-0198
campus e-mail: matt.davis@domican.edu

 

Academic Background:

  • B.A., Psychology, University of Massachusetts, Dartmouth, June, 1980
  • M.A., Experimental Social Psychology, College of William and Mary, June, 1982
  • Ph.D., Social Ecology, University of California Irvine, December 1990

 

Teaching and Research Interests

Classes regularly taught: Social Psychology, Social Influence, Statistics for Health & Behavioral Sciences, Directed Research, Human Sexuality, Media Psychology, Psychology of Travel, and a specialty course called Natural Disasters: Societal & Individual Reactions to Risk.

 

Selected Publications

  • Ricci, T., Barberi, F., Davis, M.S., Isaia, R., and Nave, R. (in Press). Volcanic Risk Perception in the Campi Flegrei Area. Journal of Volcanology and Geothermal Research.
  • Barberi, F., Davis, M.S., Isaia, R., Nave, R. & Ricci, T. (2008).  Volcanic risk perception in the Vesuvius population, Journal of Volcanology and Geothermal Research, 172, Issues 3-4, May 2008, p. 244-258.
  • Davis, M.S., Ricci, T. & Mitchell, L. M. (2005). Perceptions of risk for   volcanic hazards at Vesuvio and Etna, Italy. Australasian Journal of Disaster and Trauma Studies 2005:1, http://www.massey.ac.nz/~trauma/issues/2005-1/davis.htm.
  • Davis, M.S. & Ricci, T. (2004).  Perceptions of risk for volcanic hazards in Italy: A research note.  International Journal of Sociology & Social Policy, 24 (10), 157 – 163.

Selected Presentations

  • Davis, M.S. (2013). Psychological Aspects of Risk Perception and Preparedness for Natural Disasters. Paper to be presented
    at the Athens Institute for Education and Research, 7th Annual Conference,  Athens, Greece, May, 2013.
  • Davis, M.S. & Leeds, C. (2013). Tolerance for Political Diversity on a University Campus.  Paper to be presented at the Western Psychological Association conference, Reno, Nevada, April, 2013.
  • Davis, M.S. (2012).  Developing a Course on the Psychology of TravelPaper presented at the Athens Institute for Education and Research, 6th Annual Conference,  Athens, Greece, May, 2012.
  • Davis, M.S. (2012).  The Emergency Mind. Invited keynote address at Really Ready 3: Long-Term Care Disaster Preparedness Conference, Sacramento, California, January 25, 2012.
  • Davis, M.S., Rubinstein, J. & Lemp, S. (2011). Community Disaster Preparedness Training:  The Psychological Impact on Participants. Paper presented at the Western      Psychological Association conference, Los Angeles, California, May, 2011.
  • Davis, M.S., Rubinstein, J. & Lemp, S. (2010). The impact of community-based disaster preparedness training on citizens’ knowledge of and attitudes toward preparedness.     Invited presentation, Cities on Volcanoes 6, Tenerife, Spain, May 30 – June 4, 2010.
  • Johnston, D., Davis, M., Becker, J., Leonard, G., & Paton, D.  (2010). Community understanding of and response to the lahar risk at Mount Rainier: Implications for public education. Poster     presented at Cities on Volcanoes 6, Tenerife, Spain, May 30 – June 4, 2010.
  • Davis, M.S. (2010). Disaster psychology: Why do we live in dangerous places? Invited Keynote Address for Everbridge Notification World 2010 Conference, Glendale, CA, May 3, 2010.
  • Davis, M.S. (2010). Community-based public education projects in California. Invited presentation: Emergency Management Summer Institute, Joint Centre for Disaster Research, School of  Psychology, Massey University, Wellington, New Zealand, March 15 – 19, 2010.
  • Davis, M.S. (2008). Community-based disaster preparedness training: Impact on citizens, Paper presented at the 88th Annual Convention of the Western Psychological Association, Irvine, CA., April 11, 2008.
  • Davis, M.S., Barberi, F., Isaia, R., Nave, R. & Ricci, T. (2007). Volcanic risk perception in the Vesuvius population. Poster presented at Cities on Volcanoes 5, Shimabara, Japan, November 18-23, 2007.
  • Johnston, D.M., Davis, M.S., & Becker, J. (2007). Community understanding of the lahar risk around Mount Rainier, USA.  Poster presented at Cities on Volcanoes 5, Shimabara, Japan, November 18-23, 2007.
  • Davis, M.S., Johnston, D.M, & Becker, J. (2007). Risk perception, warning systems and evacuation plans for volcanic hazards. Paper presented at the 87th Annual Convention of the Western Psychological Association, May 5, 2007, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.
  • Davis, M., Ricci, T. & Mitchell, L. M.  (2006). Awareness of volcanic hazards and perceptions of risk among communities surrounding Etna and Vesuvio, Italy. Paper presented at Cities on Volcanoes 4, Quito, Ecuador, January 23 - 27, 2006.
  • Davis, M. (2006). Tsunami awareness on the coast of northern California. Poster presented at Cities on Volcanoes 4, Quito, Ecuador, January 23 - 27, 2006.
  • Davis, M.S.  (2004). Perception of risk for volcanic hazards in Italy. Paper presented at the 112th Annual Convention of the American Psychological Association, August 1, 2004, Honolulu, Hawaii.
  • Davis, M.S.  (2003). An interdisciplinary approach to teaching a course on Natural Disaster.  Paper Presentation at Cities on Volcanoes 3 Conference, July 15, 2003, Hilo, Hawaii.

Research Interests

My masters thesis concerned attributions of blame toward victims of earthquakes.  For my doctoral work, my focus became more applied and was focused on perceptions of risk and levels of earthquake preparedness among residents of southern California. 

In 2003 I conducted an initial study of the public's perceptions of risk from volcanic hazards at both Vesuvio and Etna in Italy. In 2006 I was involved in a more in-depth, follow-up study of over 4,000 residents of metropolitan Naples in the area around Vesuvius and the nearby Campi Flegrei. I have also completed research on public awareness of and response to tsunami hazards in northern California in collaboration with the Marin County Sheriff's Department Office of Emergency Services as well as a study of public perceptions of risk for volcanic mudflow and debris flow hazards at Mt. Rainier, Washington in collaboration with colleagues from GNS Science, New Zealand. Most recently I completed two studies evaluating the psychological impact of participation in the Get Ready Marin and CERT disaster preparedness programs offered here in Marin County.

Other topics of interest to me include a variety of issues in social psychology and human sexuality, media influences on attitudes and behavior, and social influence tactics.

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