Journal article Open Access

The cognitive and experiential effects of flood risk framings and experience, and their influence on adaptation investment behaviour

Markanday, Ambika; Galarraga, Ibon

This study explores how decision makers invest in adaptation to protect against flood risks in response to a) different framings of flood risk information, and b) after experiencing losses from a hypothetical flood event. An incentivised economic lab experiment is conducted on a sample of students in Bilbao (Basque Country, Spain). A 2 ×2 between-subject design is used to measure investment behaviour with and without exposure to a flood risk map and after exposure to im-pacts framed as economic losses versus number of persons affected. Experience is measured through a 2-period repeated game within-subject design. Flood risk maps and impacts framed as number of persons affected were conducive to more experiential forms of decision-making, while decisions based on impacts framed as economic losses were more cognitive in nature. Those that saw text-only framings used a combination of cognitive and experiential factors for making de-cisions. While exposure to maps evoked more affect-driven responses, they were associated with lower ratings of positive affect and self-efficacy, and resulted in lower investments in protection compared to text-only framings. Greater experiential processing was found for impact framings based on persons affected, but they were not especially effective at increasing personal relevance of the issue or in driving investments. Individuals who experienced losses from a hypothetical flood event had greater ratings of negative affect, and made subsequent decisions that were more affect-driven in nature. In contrast, individuals who did not experience losses had greater ratings of  positive affect, and  made subsequent decisions based on  primarily cognitive factors. In-vestments in protection reduced for those who did not experience losses, and remained the same for those who did experience losses. Results suggest that changes in adaptation investments be-tween decision points may be dependent on both the experience (or lack thereof) of losses, as well as  the  extent to  which individuals were  risk-averse or risk-taking in previous investment decisions. 

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