Would Somebody Please Listen – Applying Insights from Behavioural Economics and Social Psychology to Coastal Adaptation (7803)
To understand and manage climate impacts, individuals, communities, businesses, and governments need to process climate information, assess risks, and evaluate different adaptation options under uncertainty. Such a complex process places a number of burdens that may result in barriers to effective adaptation. This work provides an overview of findings from behavioural economics, social psychology and related fields that are relevant to adaptive behaviour. The case of coastal adaptation serves as an example to discuss some techniques to overcome these constraints and barriers.
Decision-makers can underlie cognitive constraints that lead to inconsistent, biased or seemingly irrational decisions. Facing the uncertainty of climate projections, it may be tempting to call for more data, and more detailed regional or sectoral assessments. With more choice options, individuals as well as organizations may be reluctant to take decisions. In such situations, mental shortcuts and rules of thumb replace a structured decision-making progress. Relevant to climate adaptation are also cognitive limits to process probabilities or non-linear developments.
For managing climate impacts, the capability of taking time-consistent decisions becomes crucial. When confronted with choices at different points in time, decision-makers may opt for inconsistent choices. A further important area relates to how information is processed, based on prior knowledge or beliefs as regards climate risks, which has to be taken into consideration when presenting new findings to decision-makers. In an organizational context, further behavioural effects such as group dynamics are relevant as well. These and the above factors warrant for special care when communicating climate information.