Risk Analysis

Living Behind Dikes: Mimicking Flooding Experiences

Journal Article

Delta areas like the Netherlands are threatened by global climate change. Awareness is, however, rather low. Our research objective was to investigate whether coping responses to flooding risks could be enhanced in a virtual environment (VE). A laboratory experiment was conducted in which participants were exposed to a simulated dike breach and consequent flooding of their virtual residence. We tested the hypothesis that an interactive 3D flood simulation facilitates coping responses compared to noninteractive film and slide simulations. Our results showed that information search, the motivation to evacuate, and the motivation to buy flood insurance increased after exposure to the 3D flood simulation compared to the film and slide simulations. Mediation analyses revealed that some of these presentation mode effects were mediated by a greater sense of being present in the VE. Implications to use high‐end flood simulations in a VE to communicate real‐world flooding risks and coping responses to threatened residents will be discussed.

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