Trialling behaviour change strategies to motivate interest in property level flood protection

Nirooja Thurairajah, Erik Bichard

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)


– The UK Government is spending an increasingly large sum on flood protection to protect communities and businesses. Flood events are predicted to become more frequent and severe as a result of global warming, and the government is seeking to find ways to ensure that individual householders are prepared for this. Attitudinal studies have shown that there is an interest by homeowners to respond to motivational behaviour change strategies and accept incentives such as non-cash rewards in return for investing in flood protection measures for their houses. This paper builds on a study trialling the measures suggested in the earlier attitudinal studies in a flood-threatened community in North West England.

– The hypothesis of the research has been formulated from the findings from the earlier phase of the project and was further supported with a comprehensive literature review. The data collection was carried out using survey strategies. During the data analysis, the research adopted descriptive statistical methods. The information gathered by the survey of 50 householders in the study area was analysed using statistics software.

– Policymakers in the UK are beginning to consider the theories and methods that have been proposed by behavioural economists and social psychologists when designing strategies to influence action on climate change. The Timperley Green Homes trials and the attitudinal work that underpinned it are examples of how some of this thinking can be applied in the field. A combination of information delivered at key moments in the decision-making process, incentives and norm-based influences have the potential to help motivate the owners of domestic property to invest in flood protection measures. However, this strategy needs to be delivered within the context of affordable materials and installer costs. In addition, regulators and local government will need to devise more effective ways to communicate both the likelihood and the significance of a flood incident on householder’s properties because, at present, there is little evidence to suggest that the population thinks that flooding is a high priority concern.

Research limitations/implications
– The Trial was designed to be a limited sample experiment that was commissioned as a proof of concept study. However, policymakers may require a larger sample and an extended period before the proposals are rolled out on a national scale.

Practical implications
– The study was commissioned by the UK flood management regulator and a local authority to help design future strategies to influence householders who are sceptical or are underactive to messages about the effects of climate change. The study provides evidence for some fresh thinking on how to mount future-influencing strategies by government bodies.

– There have been some attitudinal studies around flooding and behaviour, but the authors know of none that have used non-cash incentives as the central proposition to be tested. The Trial was also original in the way it incorporated other influencers including norm-based tactics and facilitation in a combined strategy with incentives.
Original languageEnglish
Article number2
Pages (from-to)130-143
Number of pages14
JournalInternational Journal of Disaster Resilience in the Built Environment
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2014


  • United Kingdom
  • Climate change
  • Survey
  • Preparedness
  • Flood protection
  • Measures
  • Non-cash rewards


Dive into the research topics of 'Trialling behaviour change strategies to motivate interest in property level flood protection'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this