Crawford Hollingworth explores how cognitive biases affect our response to floods and storms.
The weather in the UK this winter has been the wettest since records began, and it has attracted a great deal of media and government attention. Homes have been flooded, families evacuated. High winds (up to 140mph at times) and even a few tornadoes have torn down power lines; flights and trains were cancelled, and infrastructure was damaged.
While there have been some policy errors in managing the problems, the situation has also served to illustrate just how irrational and complex our behaviour and beliefs can be. Our responses to extreme weather and natural disasters are subject to a host of cognitive biases and heuristics which play on our minds – often causing more troubles than they solve.
In the first part of this article, we’ll look at three of these biases – availability bias, optimism bias and gambler’s fallacy – and we’ll examine how they drive our thinking. In the second part, we go on to analyse some initiatives which harness insights from the behavioural sciences to improve our response to what the weather throws at us.Read the rest of the article...