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Modelling risk-taking behaviour of avalanche accident victims

by   Robin Couret, et al.

Each year, over 15000 requests for mountain rescue are counted in France. Avalanche accidents represent 39% of reports, and are therefore our focus in this study. Modelling the behaviour of mountain accident victims is useful to develop more accurate rescue and prevention tools. Concretely, we observe the interference of two heuristics (availability and familiarity) in decision making when choosing an itinerary in backcountry skiing. We developed a serious game to evaluate their effect on the probability of engaging in a risky itinerary, while varying situational and environmental criteria in each participant (N = 278). The availability heuristic is operationalized by three situations, an avalanche accident video, a backcountry skiing video and a neutral context. The familiarity heuristic is operationalized by two criteria, strong and weak familiarity with the place. Results demonstrate the effects of both heuristics. Measurements through our serious game are discussed in the perspective of developing an interactive prevention tool for mitigating the negative effects of heuristics.


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