MSU researchers examine human risk taking when out in back count - | News, Weather & Sports in Billings, Montana

MSU researchers examine human risk taking when out in back country

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Every year, Montana consistently ranks among the highest states in avalanche deaths. Between the 2008 and 2017 winter seasons, 34 people have died in avalanches. Professor Jordy Hendrikx, Director of the Snow and Avalanche Lab at MSU, has led research projects and workshops on safety in avalanche terrain. Now, he is taking his research one step forward.

Hendrikx has partnered up with MSU Professor Jerry Johnson and Swedish behavioral economist Andrea Mannberg. Together, they will work on a new project called White Heat.

This project will dive into the reasons why people take risks that could cost them their lives, using Mannberg’s behavioral economics expertise in risk-taking and theory about decision making. The team hopes this new approach will fill a void in avalanche safety training.

Hendrikx said, “The White Heat Project is an extension to our previous skitracks project. In skitracks project we were interested in understanding where people went and who they were. They drawback to the skitracks project is we didn’t understand why. We didn’t know why people were making the decisions that they were and this is really now the next evolution.”

The project is also personal, since Mannberg has herself been injured in an avalanche, and one of Hendrikx's students died on a trip in Colorado.

Backcountry enthusiasts of all skill levels are invited to participate in the survey: click here.

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