Ball, R.J., Hudson-Doyle, E. E., Nuth, M., Hopkins, J.W., Brunsdon, D. & Brown, C.O. (2022). Behavioural science applied to risk-based decision processes: a case study for earthquake prone buildings in New Zealand. Civil Engineering and Environmental Systems, 39:2, 144-164. https://doi.org/10.1080/10286608.2022.2089980
Policy and technical guidance are only as good as their implementation. Often well-meaning legislation has unintended consequences, as individuals and organisations overlay their own risk perceptions and understanding to an issue.
This paper illustrates how behavioural science can be applied to risk-based engineering decisions to improve decision outcomes. It is framed around an analysis of the management of earthquake prone public buildings in New Zealand. It demonstrates how the individual, social and cultural contexts can influence how risks and impacts are perceived, evaluated, and communicated. The framing of the decision, unconscious biases, cognitive limitations, trust, and other social influences are all critical factors in translation of technical policy to effective outcomes.