Understanding homeowner's social norms and behavior when threatened by wildfire

Blog Post created by mikehazell Employee on Oct 27, 2011


"Understanding Homeowner's Intentions & Actions When Threatened by Wildfire" is the topic that Sarah McCaffrey of the USDA Forest Service presented on at the Backyards & Beyond Wildland Fire Education Conference

Understanding behavior and social norms is necessary to changing these things. It's important to deal with misconceptions, consider multiple audiences and resource limitations as well. One of the points Sarah stressed was that risk is very subjective, and that risk perception can be influenced by many factors, but an increased risk perception does not necessarily lead to action. She also warns people should be wary of conventional wisdom. For example, there is not sufficient evidence that new or part-time residents are any less aware of the risks in their community. 

Comfirmation bias also plays a role in this concept of risk perception. When people have an opinion on something, they are likely to accept new information that confirms this opinion and reject new information that contradicts it. 

The McCafferty & Winter study was done looking at the Ventura, Alachua, Helena Tri County areas and the perceptions of the people who live in each. Take a look at the study for further information on the findings.

-Lauren Backstrom