Exploring Psychometric Determinants of Risk Perception, Preference and Climate Change Adaptation Behavior

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Adaptation is a pragmatic method of reducing the likelihood and cost of climate change related disasters. However, the combination of low probabilities and high stakes entailed by these extreme events can compromise our ability to respond efficiently, i.e., adopt appropriate flood protection or insurance measures. To help understand the human convergence and deviations from efficient response, this study proposes a psychometric model of climate change risk perception and adaptation. By extending a framed risk elicitation task with a methodically designed survey, we explore psychometric and econometric factors of adaptation in a flood context. In collaboration with a Danish insurance company, we tested the influence of personality traits, preferences, perception, vulnerability and socioeconomic attributes on adaptation decisions. A total of 310 policyholders completed the elicitation task where they made adaptation decisions under different risk levels. The results show that adaptation is strongly correlated with risk levels, and significantly correlated with risk aversion as well as experience of a climate change event. For the psychometric measures we find that the personality trait open to experience has a significant negative influence on adaptation, conscientiousness and honesty also have a negative influence. Personality traits honesty, extraversion, agreeableness and conscientiousness are significantly correlated with subjectively reported flood risk levels. Whereas in the area of personal characteristics, we find that community sense of coherence has a significant negative correlation with reported f lood risk. The results for domain-specific risk-taking and perception show that adaptation is negatively correlated with risk taking and positively correlated with risk perception in the flood domain. The risk attitude measure is also correlated with flood domain specific risk perception.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages24
Publication statusSubmitted - 2024


  • Flood preparedness
  • Behavioral and experimental economics
  • HEXACO Personality Inventory
  • Domain-Specific Risk-Taking
  • Community Sense of Coherence
  • oTree


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