Understanding public perceptions of and responses to heat waves: A behavioural decision research approach


Heat waves cause excess deaths, illness and discomfort. Although heat waves have been relatively rare in the UK, they are projected to become more common and intense under a changing climate.

In a UK-wide project, we found that UK residents’ positive feelings about hot summer weather did indeed undermine their willingness to implement heat protection behaviours during the 2013 heat wave. We also tested four strategies for promoting heat protection behaviours. The most promising strategy involved invoking memories of negative experiences with summer heat. Most UK residents have had negative experiences with summer heat, but those memories often do not naturally come to mind. Reminding people of these experiences may increase willingness to implement heat protection behaviours.

Project website