Insights into flood risk misperceptions of homeowners in the Dutch river delta


Flooding is one of the most significant natural disasters worldwide. Nevertheless, voluntary take-up of individual damage reduction measures is low. A potential explanation is that flood risk perceptions of individual homeowners are below objective estimates of flood risk, which may imply that they underestimate the flood risk and the damage that can be avoided by damage reduction measures. The aim of this paper is to assess possible flood risk misperceptions of floodplain residents in the Netherlands, and to offer insights into factors that are related with under- or overestimation of perceived flood risk. We analyzed survey data of 1848 homeowners in the Dutch river delta and examine how perceptions of flood probability and damage relate to objective risk assessments, such as safety standards of dikes, as well as heuristics, including the availability heuristic and the affect heuristic. Results show that many Dutch floodplain inhabitants significantly overestimate the probability, but underestimate the maximum expected water level of a flood. We further observe that many respondents apply the availability heuristic.

Risk Analysis