EGU General Assembly 2023
© Author(s) 2023. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Bridge the gap: Linking social vulnerability and adaptive behaviour

Sungju Han1,3, Torsten Masson2, Sabrina Köhler2, and Christian Kuhlicke1,3
Sungju Han et al.
  • 1Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research GmbH - UFZ, Department of Urban and Environmental Sociology, Germany (
  • 2Leipzig University, Wilhelm Wundt Institute for Psychology, Germany
  • 3University of Potsdam, Institute of Environmental Science and Geography, Germany

Individual adaptation is essential for achieving community resilience as well as coping with residual risks that have not been addressed by current structural schemes for reducing flood risks. At the same time, it also implies that individuals should have the resources and capacity to protect themselves. So far, this has been interpreted in the social vulnerability concept as accounting only for income, wealth, or other materially relevant factors, showing how much vulnerable people are exposed to more risk. However, individual behavioural adaptability has hardly been included in the current vulnerability assessment.

In light of this, this study proposes a novel way to expand and link social classes using well-established social vulnerability indicators (i.e. income, education, and job status) with socio-psychological and lifestyle elements theoretically and empirically known to influence individual protective behaviour. We conducted a bias-adjusted three-step Latent Class Analysis (LCA) with covariates (socio-psychological and lifestyle elements) and distal outcomes (adaptive behaviour). A household survey (n = 1,753) conducted between June and July 2020 in 11 cities in Saxony, Germany, was used.

The preliminary result shows that socio-psychological and cultural factors that influence individual decision-making on proactive adaptive behaviour co-vary with social classes based on their resource endowment. It also revealed that the lower class tends to have less implementation of costly adaptation methods, for example, structural measures on housing, while less costly measures did not make a significant difference. As a result, we recommend that, in addition to the lack of material endowment, which can be associated with an increased risk of exposure, individual inaction of protective behaviour motivated by socio-psychological traits be considered for social vulnerability.

How to cite: Han, S., Masson, T., Köhler, S., and Kuhlicke, C.: Bridge the gap: Linking social vulnerability and adaptive behaviour, EGU General Assembly 2023, Vienna, Austria, 24–28 Apr 2023, EGU23-5148,, 2023.