Romania is confronted with one of the worst times in its recent history, where the estimated risk of a potential seismic hazard is elevated especially in the capital and nearby cities (Armas & Avram, 2007). This, along with the bad shape of many inhabited buildings, provides real reasons for anxiety with a negative impact on health and wellbeing (e.g., Moser, 2007). Therefore, given that the stressor isn’t controllable, it is important to focus on other pathways to anxiety management. According to the cognitive behavioral theory (CBT; Beck, 1995; Ellis, 1994), beliefs about the stressor are the pathway to altering anxiety symptoms.

However, in connection to natural hazards, anxiety and its interplay with beliefs about natural hazards has been disregarded. Therefore, in the current study we focus on a circumscribed class of beliefs, which are general expectancies about the future (dispositional optimism) and specific expectancies, in the form of risk perceptions about the consequences of an earthquake.

Previous literature has shown that optimism is negatively related to anxiety (Kepka et al., 2013). However, given that optimism is a trait-like variable, we suggest that this relationship is mediated by more specific cognitions, such as risk perceptions about the consequences of an earthquake. As such, we aim to investigate the suggested mediational model via an ongoing study on the inhabitants of Romanian cities located in areas of seismic risk. The design is cross-sectional. In light of CBT theory, we expect that risk perceptions about the consequences of an earthquake will be more proximal to anxiety and therefore mediate the link between optimistic thoughts and experienced anxiety.

These results could inform future anxiety management programs about resilience in the face of natural hazards, as there is a trend of focusing on psychological issues only after a natural hazard has occurred, such as on Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Furthermore, knowing more about the variables that influence anxiety and how they interact provides pathways to prevention and perhaps ways to recover faster after such an event has occurred.