Risk Communication and Decision-Making Lab
To better understand and improve individual and collective decision-making in the presence of uncertainty, the Risk Communication and Decision-Making Lab investigates different approaches for framing and providing information to households, businesses, and public sector decision-makers to ensure that they are aware of the risks they face and able to improve their preparedness and response to future adverse events.
Controlling the Risk of Wildfires
Wildfires have caused record-breaking losses that are likely to increase in the future due to the impacts of climate change, with drought, extreme heat, and reduced snowpack contributing to the severity of the fires. Homeowners, communities, and insurance firms all have important roles in curtailing damages from future wildfires. Watch the recording of a virtual event about Mitigating Wildfires, moderated by Howard Kunreuther, here.
Adapting to Climate Change
Cognitive biases, such as myopia, inertia, and herding, cause property owners to avoid investing in long-term measures, such as installing solar panels on their property. We can address these biases with strategies that work with, rather than against, how people naturally make decisions, in concert with short-term economic incentives that meet households’ immediate needs. Recent published work on these topics includes a working paper on Addressing Biases that Impact Homeowners’ Adoption of Solar Panels, an article on how Flood Insurance Finally Acknowledges Climate Change, and an opinion piece on How to overcome cognitive biases against climate action.
Learning from COVID
The COVID-19 pandemic has proven to be one of the most extensive and complex catastrophic risks the global economy has ever faced. Going forward, discussions and decision-making frameworks are needed to help evaluate risk management strategies to deal with “uninsurable” risks. Alternative options that involve the insurance sector may be able to assist businesses, nonprofits, and local governments in managing future pandemics and other catastrophic and systemic risks.
Increasing Mitigation Through Persuasive Messaging
With support from the Alabama Center for Insurance Information and Research (ACIIR) at the University of Alabama, the Wharton Risk Center is developing audiovisual messages that aim to increase mitigation activities (e.g., installing a high wind resistant roof) among homeowners in hurricane-prone regions of the U.S.
Botzen, W.J.W., Mol, J.M., Robinson, P.J., Zhang, J., Czajkowski, J. (2021). Individual hurricane preparedness during the COVID-19 pandemic: Insights for risk communication and emergency management policies. Natural Hazards. 1-16.
Kunreuther, H., Conell-Price, L., Kovacs, P., & Goda, K. (2021). The Impact of a Government Risk Pool and an Opt-Out Framing on Demand for Earthquake Protection . NBER w29144, and SSRN 3901895.
Kunreuther, H. (2021) Flood Insurance Finally Acknowledges Climate Change. Brink. June.
Mol, J.M., W.J.W. Botzen, J.E. Blasch, E.C. Kranzler, and H.C. Kunreuther (2021). All by myself? Testing descriptive social norm-nudges to increase flood preparedness among homeowners. Behavioural Public Policy, 1-33. doi:10.1017/bpp.2021.17
Kunreuther, H., A. Polise, and Q. Spellmeyer (2021). Addressing Biases that Impact Homeowners’ Adoption of Solar Panels. NBER working paper #28678.
Kousky, C., H. Kunreuther, S. Xian, and N. Lin (2021). Adapting Our Flood Risk Policies to Changing Conditions. Forthcoming in Risk Analysis.
Chaudhry, S.J., M. Hand, and H. Kunreuther (2021). Broad bracketing for low probability events. Journal of Risk and Uncertainty, 61(3), 211-244.
Kunreuther, H. (2020). Risk Management Solutions for Climate Change–Induced Disasters. Risk Analysis. DOI: 10.1111/risa.1361
Kunreuther, H. and M.V. Pauly (2020). Do People Have a Bias for Low-Deductible Insurance? NBER working paper.
Mehr, K. S., Geiser, A. E., Milkman, K. L., & Duckworth, A. L. (2020). Copy-Paste Prompts: A New Nudge to Promote Goal Achievement. Journal of the Association for Consumer Research, 5(3), 000-000.
Kirgios, E. L., Chang, E. H., Levine, E. E., Milkman, K. L., & Kessler, J. B. (2020). Forgoing earned incentives to signal pure motives. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 117(29), 16891-16897.
Warren, D. and Schweitzer, M. (2019). When weak sanctioning systems work: Evidence from auto insurance industry fraud investigations. Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes.
Gaspar, J., Methasani, R. and Schweitzer, M. (2019). Fifty Shades of Deception: Characteristics and Consequences of Lying in Negotiations. Academy of Management Perspectives, 33(1), 62-81.
Wilson, M. T. and C. Kousky (2019). The Long Road to Adoption: How Long Does it Take to Adopt Updated County-Level Flood Insurance Rate Maps? Risk, Hazards, & Crisis in Public Policy, 10(4): 403-421
Haer, T., W.J.W. Botzen, and J.C. Aerts (2019). Advancing disaster policies by integrating dynamic adaptive behaviour in risk assessments using an agent-based modelling approach. Environmental Research Letters, 14(4), 044022.
Botzen, W. J,W., H. Kunreuther, J. Czajkowski, and H. de Moel (2019). Adoption of Individual Flood Damage Mitigation Measures in New York City: An Extension of Protection Motivation Theory. Risk Analysis.
Kousky, C. (2018). How America Fails at Communicating Flood Risks. City Lab. October 11.
Kunreuther, H. (2018). Improving the National Flood Insurance Program. Behavioural Public Policy, 1-15.
Robinson, P. J., and W.J.W. Botzen (2018). The impact of regret and worry on the threshold level of concern for flood insurance demand: Evidence from Dutch homeowners. Judgment and Decision Making, 13(3), 237-245.
Meyer, R. and H. Kunreuther (2017) The Ostrich Paradox: Why We Underprepare for Disasters. Philadelphia, PA: Wharton Digital Press.
For a full list of publications, see our main publications page: https://riskcenter.wharton.upenn.edu/publications/
The Risk Center joined with Zurich and partners to develop key initiatives focused on broadening the scope of flood resilience research, in order to advance global understanding of flood impact, risk reduction, financial protection, and community resilience.
University of Pennsylvania Ph.D. students who are pursuing research in decision making under risk and uncertainty are encouraged to apply for the Russell Ackoff Doctoral Student Fellowship Program. Proposals are due April 3rd, 2022. The program will provide a small number of grants to doctoral students conducting research directly related to the Risk Center’s current research agenda.
Co-Director Emeritus and Senior Fellow, Wharton Risk Management and Decision Processes Center
Research Areas: Climate Adaptation; Disaster Insurance; Communication of Climate Risks; Climate Change Policy
Professor of Economics of Climate Change and Natural Disasters, VU University Amsterdam
Research Areas: Climate Change Economics; Natural Disaster Risk Management; Catastrophe Insurance, Individual Decision Making
Assistant Professor of Behavioral Science, University of Chicago Booth School of Business
Research Areas: Judgment and Decision Making; Social Communication; Impression Management and Person Perception
For more information on the Risk Communication and Decision Making Lab, contact Zoë Linder-Baptie, Communication and Engagement Coordinator, at email@example.com.
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