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Why People Underprepare for Disasters

Professor Howard Kunreuther discusses the processes and biases in decision-making under uncertainty in the 22-minute video “Human Biases: Why People Underprepare for Disasters.”

In his PrepTalk released Tuesday by Federal Emergency Management Agency and its emergency management partners, Kunreuther also proposes a behavioral risk audit that couples protective decision-making with economic incentives, enabling individual and collective actions to achieve greater resilience.

Kunreuther is professor emeritus of Decision Sciences and Public Policy in the Operations, Information and Decisions Department, and co-director of the Wharton Risk Management and Decision Processes Center at the Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania. Kunreuther has a long-standing interest in ways that society can better manage low-probability, high-consequence events related to technological and natural hazards.

This is the sixth presentation to be released on video from the fifth PrepTalks Symposium Sept. 19 in Washington, D.C. PrepTalks are a partnership between FEMA, the International Association of Emergency Managers, the National Emergency Management Association, the National Homeland Security Consortium, and the Naval Postgraduate School Center for Homeland Defense and Security.

An accompanying American Sign Language video and additional resources are online at

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The story was compiled by staff members of Coastal Review Online.