SABA 2023 Innovative Student Research, Master’s Thesis: Madison Graham

Madison Graham is a doctoral student in Dr. Derek Reed’s Applied Behavioral Economics lab at the University of Kansas. She previously worked with Dr. Jan Sheldon at the University of Kansas prior to Dr. Sheldon’s retirement. The opportunity to work with both of these mentors has led to uniquely broad interests and applications of behavior analysis for Madison. Her primary interests involve a behavior-analytic approach to community resilience and public policy. These interests span from behaviors surrounding juvenile justice and truancy to natural disasters and disaster preparedness, considering implications for policy and the community.
The SABA grant will support her master’s thesis research, which will assess an individual’s willingness to invest in disaster preparation. Specifically, this study will use behavioral economic tasks (e.g., a purchase task) to evaluate willingness to purchase a FEMA-approved residential safe room to protect from tornado damage. There have been few applications of behavior analysis to behavior surrounding disaster preparedness, severe weather, and tornadoes (e.g., Cox et al., 2021; Gelino & Reed, 2020). However, the field provides incredible resources to assess these behaviors. Behavioral economic tasks lend well to disaster research as they can be used to simulate scenarios that may not be able to be otherwise manipulated due to logistical or ethical concerns (e.g., response to natural disasters). To closely replicate and simulate available disaster preparation resources, Madison designed the behavioral tasks for the study using a community-wide grant currently available through FEMA. This study will employ a mixed design with a parametric evaluation of pricing within-subject and a between-subjects expenditure comparison. Respondents will complete a series of tasks, including a residential safe room purchase task.
Further, to maximize the potential of these findings, her research involves interdisciplinary collaboration with civil engineers and economists. The results of this study may further inform consumer decision-making surrounding disaster preparedness. They could inform and improve currently available federal grant programs as well as policies and interventions surrounding disaster preparation and infrastructure. Considering these potential implications, results could eventually lead to a line of research allowing better preparation for both individuals and communities.

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