CICERO - Center for International Climate Research

The power of impact framing and experience for determining acceptable levels of climate change‑induced food risk: a lab experiment

Ambika Markanday, Steffen Kallbekken, Ibon Galarraga

This study explores how individuals, when assuming the role of policymakers, determine acceptable levels of risk in response to (a) different framings of flood risk information and (b) after experiencing economic losses from a hypothetical flood event in Zarautz (Basque Country, Spain). An incentivised lab experiment is conducted on a representative sample in the neighbouring region of Bilbao. A 2 × 2 factorial between-subject design is used to measure risk acceptability in response to visual and economic impact framings, and the effect of experience is measured using a 2-period repeated game within-subject design. Results from the experiment teach us that photos of climate impacts can be an effective medium for provoking visceral feelings about climate change. When used in conjunction with simple numerical risk information, photos can help the public to engage more deeply with climate issues and in turn encourage them to take precautionary measures to limit losses in the future. Experiencing economic losses leads to reductions in levels of acceptable risks, but decision-making is characterised by little emotional or logical reasoning, signalling a use of heuristics such as ‘gut impulse’, which may be prone to cognitive bias.

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