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An evaluation of flood risk communication efforts based upon the values judgements of the inhabitanats of a selection of informal settlements in the Cape Town municipal area
It is widely believed that experts often have a more rational approach towards risks. This is because they are known to use algorithms, formal logic, risk assessments and normative rules to make decisions about risks. The central tenet of this research is that communication based on an understanding of how people conceptualise and evaluate risk communication efforts is critical for translating risk management knowledge into effective risk practices necessary for value generation in flood risk mitigation. Rational decisionEmaking requires both analytic and intuitive systems to operate on a parallel level. Therefore, this research proposes a Flood Risk Communication Model that takes cognisance of lay perceptions. The model emphasises on how risk communication efforts are evaluated by the lay using a combination of descriptive psychological and social construction theories. In particular, the prospect theory, heuristics and biases, cultural theory and trust theory are used to provide explanatory sketches on how flood risk communication efforts are perceived in highly vulnerable environmental contexts such as informal settlements. The challenge in this research however, lies in verifying the model empirically. The associative group analysis technique will be used to generate empirical data from a case study population. Two basic analytic methods will be employed to measure psychological dispositions of respondents. Firstly, word associations are scored and weighted based on frequency of occurrence to generate a dominance score. The higher the dominance score, the greater the interpretation and the more meaningful the theme is for that particular group. Secondly, the different theories of the model are factored into a questionnaire to measure priorities. All the responses are then compared to the proposed model and also used to evaluate actual lay perceptions and feelings towards the current risk communication interventions. The results showed a high level of consistency with the FRCM and hence with the descriptive psychological models of Kahneman and Tversky. However, we conclude that what is has been proposed to be biases are intuitive tendencies to adapt and make sustainable decisions in the face of applicable contextual influences. Thus, these contextual hierarchies determine the reference point and status quo of the recipient in decision making. Therefore, these influences and hierarchies need to be factored in the designing of a risk communication.