Society For Risk Analysis Annual Meeting 2013

Session Schedule & Abstracts

* Disclaimer: All presentations represent the views of the authors, and not the organizations that support their research. Please apply the standard disclaimer that any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations in abstracts, posters, and presentations at the meeting are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of any other organization or agency. Meeting attendees and authors should be aware that this disclaimer is intended to apply to all abstracts contained in this document. Authors who wish to emphasize this disclaimer should do so in their presentation or poster. In an effort to make the abstracts as concise as possible and easy for meeting participants to read, the abstracts have been formatted such that they exclude references to papers, affiliations, and/or funding sources. Authors who wish to provide attendees with this information should do so in their presentation or poster.

Common abbreviations

Public Response to Natural and Technological Disasters

Room: Peale A&B   3:30 PM - 5:10 PM

Chair(s): Andrew Binder, Ann Bostrom

M4-G.2  15:50  Risky Business: Engaging the Public in Policy Discourse on Sea-Level Rise and Inundation. Akerlof K.*, Rowan K. E., La Porte T., Ernst H., Nataf D., Batten B., Rajasekar M., Dolan D.; George Mason University, KA, KER, TLP, DD; U.S. Naval Academy, HE; Center for the Study of Local Issues, Anne Arundel Community College, DN; Dewberry, BB, MR

Abstract: In the United States, public discourse about adaptation to anthropogenic climate change began more recently than debates on reductions in greenhouse gas emissions, and thus far has been more muted. It has been unclear whether public opinion has the potential to become as sharply polarized on adaptation responses as it has been on mitigation policies. To examine this question, we surveyed a representative sample of residents of a coastal county in Maryland, and tested the impact of a community deliberative event that presented sea-level rise information within small-group discussions as a potential strategy to reduce polarization. We found that the same preferences for societal “ways of life,” such as degree of individualism and hierarchy, that have contributed to politically polarized beliefs about climate change are also associated with people’s perceptions of local sea-level rise risk. These preferences are predictive of perceptions of sea-level rise risk to the county—the level at which local governmental policy responses will be decided—whereas living near coastal flooding and inundation hazards is not. Coastal proximity is a significant predictor of sea-level rise risk perceptions, but only for people’s own homes and neighborhoods. The community deliberative event—a daylong process of expert presentations, access to property-level risk data, and small-group discussions— significantly increased topic knowledge among all participants, and significantly increased problem identification, issue concern, and sea-level rise belief among those participants with a worldview predisposing them to lower risk perceptions. With respect to sea-level rise, this implies that policy discussions that emphasize local community identity as a component of public engagement and decision-making may be more effective in bypassing cultural polarization in problem recognition, than either larger-scale issue debates or those which neglect the role of social context.

M4-G.3  16:10  Do I stay or do I go? Risk attitudes and evacuation decisions during a wildfire event. WIlson RS*, McCaffrey S; The Ohio State University, USDA Forest Service

Abstract: Most socio-psychological wildfire research focuses on risk mitigation actions taken before a fire event occurs with less attention paid to homeowner actions during a fire. However, increasing incidences of homeowners refusing to evacuate or leaving at the last minute during wildfires and other natural disasters had led to a growing interest in research into evacuation decision making. We randomly selected homeowners from three counties in the states of Washington, Texas and South Carolina, and conducted a mailed survey to assess their evacuation decision making process in the spring of 2013. These three counties were specifically chosen because of their high wildfire risk, but they each varied in terms of past experience with wildfire and mandatory evacuation orders. Drawing on Protection Motivation Theory and the Extended Parallel Process Model, we assessed individual homeowner's threat and coping appraisal related to wildfire, as well as individual risk attitudes. We expected that individuals with risk averse attitudes would have higher threat appraisals and lower coping appraisals than those with risk tolerant attitudes. As a result it was expected that risk averse individuals would be more likely to evacuate early, whereas the risk tolerant would vary in their evacuation response based on their respective appraisals. In effect, the pattern would be that evacuation decisions are made heuristically, whereas decisions to stay and defend, or wait and see, are more systematic and driven by individual differences in the perceived threat and ability to cope with wildfire. To ensure maximum public safety, crisis communication efforts could target the risk tolerant, focusing on correcting the misperceptions or critical beliefs that tend to drive individuals to ignore evacuation orders and place their lives in danger.

M4-G.4  16:30  A comparison of spontaneous associations with nuclear power underlying its acceptance before and after the Fukushima disaster, and of associations with nuclear and solar energy resources. Keller C*, Sütterlin B, Siegrist M; ETH Zurich

Abstract: After the nuclear accident in Fukushima, energy policies changed in some European countries. In Switzerland, for example, the government decided to phase out nuclear power in the near future and to promote and expand renewable energy resources. To better understand public acceptance of the changed energy policy, spontaneous associations with nuclear power as well as with solar power and the affective evaluations of these associations were examined. A study was conducted among Swiss residents in 2012 (N=1211), after the Fukushima disaster. Slightly fewer than half of the sample (n=561) had already participated in a study in which associations with nuclear power were assessed in 2009, before the Fukushima disaster. The present study compared the spontaneous associations with nuclear power plants between 2009 and 2012, and examined the relationship with the acceptance of nuclear power. In addition, the spontaneous associations with nuclear power were compared with associations with solar power. The affective evaluation of nuclear power was more negative in 2012 compared to 2009. However, the general pattern of associations with nuclear power underlying the acceptance of nuclear power did not change. Almost all associations with solar power were rated positively. People did not associate risk with solar power. Practical implications will be discussed.

M4-G.5  16:50  A longitudinal study of risk perception: The case of Chile. Zacharias CA*, Bronfman NC, Cifuentes LA, Jimenez RB; Pontificia Universidad Catolica De Chile

Abstract: Chile has experienced several social and cultural changes during the last 15 years. Per-capita income growth and political stability have placed Chile in a leading position, becoming the first South American country to join the OECD in 2010. Development has produced many changes in society. Social ills are a now primary concern, leading to laws controlling abuse of alcohol and drugs, and to efforts to reduce inequality in health and educational services. Environmental concerns have switched somehow from local and regional problems, such as particulate air pollution and wastewater pollution to global issues, such as climate change. Also, natural disasters have affected the population. In 2010, Chile suffered an 8.9 magnitude earthquake and tsunami, something not experienced by the Chilean population since 1960. With all these changes, it is expected that public risk perception might have changed. The main objective of this investigation is to assess the change in risk perception in the last decade. To achieve this, we characterized current public concerns and perceptions of risk, and contrasted them with those quantified and reported a decade ago by the study of Bronfman and Cifuentes (2003). Based on the psychometric paradigm, and using a similar survey to the one implemented before, we studied the differences in perceptions of risk, benefit and acceptability for 40 activities, substances or technologies. Differences in risk perceptions regarding natural hazards, environmental hazards and social ills were studied and analyzed. Additionally, geographical and socio-economical differences were explored, and differences between laypeople and experts’ risk perceptions where also investigated.

M4-G.6  16:50  Risk-informed decision framework for built-environment: the role of ambiguity. Cha E*, Wang Y; Georgia Institute of Technology

Abstract: Managing a risk to built-environment from natural and man-made hazards is an important issue for the prosperity of a nation. Assessing a risk forms the basis for risk management, which often involves epistemic uncertainty, also known as ambiguity, that arises from our ignorance about a risk, such as lack of data, errors in collected data, and assumptions made in modeling and analysis. In contrast, aleatory uncertainty arises from variability of possible outcomes. Epistemic uncertainty exists in the assessment of a hazard occurrence related to its magnitude, the associated likelihoods, and the response of a structure. If ambiguity prevails, risk perception of a decision maker plays a key role in assessing and managing a risk. Furthermore, the role of risk perception in risk management of civil infrastructure becomes significant because of the potential of catastrophic consequences (e.g. casualties, loss of functions of the built-environment, etc.) to the public. Studies have suggested that the risk of low-probability, high-consequence events tends to be overestimated by the public. Consideration of ambiguity and risk perception in risk assessment of a built-environment may lead to a risk management solution that is different from what is obtained when they are not incorporated. We will present a risk-informed decision-making framework that will assist decision makers, particularly governmental agencies, in allocating resources to enhance the safety and security of civil infrastructure. In this framework, epistemic uncertainty is incorporated utilizing the concepts of Choquet capacity and interval probability. The framework will be illustrated with an example of a regional hurricane risk management for residential buildings located in Miami-Dade County, Florida, with the consideration of the climate change effect

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