The day after the disaster: Risk-taking following large- and small-scale disasters in a microworld

Garston Liang*, Tim Rakow, Eldad Yechiam, Ben R. Newell

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)
13 Downloads (Pure)


Using data from seven microworld experiments (N = 841), we investigated how participants reacted to simulated disasters with different risk profiles in a microworld. Our central focus was to investigate how the scale of a disaster affected the choices and response times of these reactions. We find that one-off large-scale disasters prompted stronger reactions to move away from the affected region than recurrent small-scale adverse events, despite the overall risk of a disaster remaining constant across both types of events. A subset of participants are persistent risk-takers who repeatedly put themselves in harm’s way, despite having all the experience and information required to avoid a disaster. Furthermore, while near-misses prompted a small degree of precautionary movement to reduce one’s subsequent risk exposure, directly experiencing the costs of the disaster substantially increased the desire to move away from the affected region. Together, the results point to ways in which laboratory risk-taking tasks can be used to inform the kinds of communication and interventions that seek to mitigate people’s exposure to risk.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)513-546
Number of pages34
JournalJudgment and Decision Making
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 31 May 2022


  • loss aversion
  • loss avoidance
  • decisions-from-experience
  • decision making
  • decision strategy
  • agency


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