Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Modeling Behavior: What Motivates People to Prepare, or Not Prepare, for Natural Disasters?

A potential new laboratory approach to understanding the dynamics on individual preparedness responses to hurricane threats is described and illustrated. Termed Dynamic Information Acceleration, the approach immerses participants in a realistic simulation that recreates via the web the information dynamics that precede decisions to invest in protection against both long term (mitigation) and short-term (preparedness) hurricane threats. In addition to providing data describing how information is gathered and utilized over time to make protective decisions in light of changing beliefs about hurricane threats, it provides a tool for experimentally testing alternative policies for enhancing investments in preparedness and mitigation. A prototype system is described that is designed to measure the timing and nature of preparedness actions in response to a hypothetical hurricane threat in South Florida. Incentive- compatibility is achieved by imbedding the simulation in a time-management game played for real compensation in which participants trade off time that could be allocated to undertaking utility-generating activities such as work and recreation, with that which could be allocated to undertaking protective actions, such as putting up shutters. The findings of a pilot application of the simulation is reported, which is used to provide evidence on the effect of alternative storm- forecast graphics on overall levels of storm preparedness.

Source: Risk Management and Decision Processes Center. The Wharton School, Univ. of Pennsylvania [via knowledge@wharton]

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