Lots of people use to consider the effects of upheavals about the Earth’s climate, like a distant thematic, that concerns other places and other nations.

This attitude makes the people less willing to modify their behaviors and less likely to accept that the public administrations makes some investment in adaptation’s activities.

On the other hand, who experienced it firsthand the extremes climate events has reached a real awareness about climate change effects and perceives a sense of worry and vulnerability that was unknown before.

If we want to raise the bar of the risk’s perception without make a direct experience (we hope so), it is necessary to adopt some communication’s methodologies that consider the cognitive’s distortions between the perception of the real and the reality itself.

The risk’s assessment is composed by three objective factors:

  1. The probability that an event can occur
  2. The exposition to the risk
  3. The vulnerability

These three objective factors are fundamental to arrange plans, for example, of evacuation or intervention. There is also the subjective perception of what can happen around us: an evacuation’s plan will be less effective if the population won’t be aware (and therefore inclined to believe it) about the latent danger to which it is subjected.

But how come there is such a different perception of risk from reality?
There is often a large gap between the data knowledge of experts and the population. But even when more information is given to the population, the perception of risk continues to mismatch. It has been realised that risk perception does not depend on rational factors, but on non-rational automatic processes.

One such factor is familiarity: we consider a new hazard more serious than one we are used to living with that becomes almost normal. For example, who lives near Campi Flegrei next to Naples tend to underestimate the dangers of an earthquake.
Linked to this, there is the issue of physical distance, the more an event occurs in a distant place the less likely it is considered, and temporal distance, if the effects of climate change are slow and distant over the years preventive actions are not perceived with the urgency needed to implement them.

Another factor affecting risk perception is that of control. Many people are more concerned about taking the plane than the car, but because we drive the car we believe we can avoid accidents. We have a tendency to overestimate our ability to keep control of reality.

The fourth factor is the voluntariness, in case of weather alert, who chooses to go out, without listening to civil protection, perceives the risk much less from those who barricade themselves in their homes.

The knowledge about these four factors help to understand the link between perception and behaviours.

Disaster risk reduction is strongly linked to the decisions we make. Finding out about civil protection plans and knowing what to do in the event of a flood can make the difference.