Document / Publication
This publication explores and provides guidance on the challenges of integrating social and behavioral sciences (SBS) within the weather enterprise. It assesses current SBS activities, describes the potential value of improved integration of SBS and barriers that impede this integration, develops a research agenda, and identifies infrastructural and institutional arrangements for successfully pursuing SBS-weather research and the transfer of relevant findings to operational settings.
There is growing recognition that a host of social and behavioral factors affect how people prepare for, observe, predict, respond to, and are impacted by weather hazards. For example, an individual’s response to a severe weather event may depend on their understanding of the forecast, prior experience with severe weather, concerns about their other family members or property, their capacity to take the recommended protective actions, and numerous other factors. Indeed, it is these factors that can determine whether or not a potential hazard becomes an actual disaster. Thus, it is essential to bring to bear expertise in the SBS—including disciplines such as anthropology, communication, demography, economics, geography, political science, psychology, and sociology—to understand how people’s knowledge, experiences, perceptions, and attitudes shape their responses to weather risks and to understand how human cognitive and social dynamics affect the forecast process itself.