Weird I know quoting a paper about avalanche risk in a kiteboarding forum. But stick with me. I'm going to quote the article from https://www.summitpost.org/human-factor ... nts/188636
instead of the original 2004 McCammon paper
Familiarity with a place or situation allows us to function efficiently, as we do not have to figure out from scratch what to do each time we encounter it. We simply behave as we have always done. Unfortunately, in avalanche terrain the effect of prior experience can lead us to take chances we might not take in unfamiliar territory.
Curiously, familiarity with an area has the strongest effect on highly trained parties. McCammon found that groups with advanced training in terrain with which they were familiar exposed themselves to nearly twice the hazard level of less well-educated groups, and about the same level of hazard as parties with no avalanche training at all.
Politicians and corporate managers who, having made one bad decision, follow it up with a whole string of bad decisions merely because they don’t want to change their original position provide an endless supply of fodder for the likes of Bill Maher and Scott Adams. But let’s face it, we all do it from time to time. When consistency with previous decisions helps us cut through distractions and stay focused on the task at hand it is a good thing. But when it blinds us to new information that suggests that “staying the course” is a bad idea, it can lead us into trouble. McCammon and others found that there was a significant increase in the level of risk taken by parties who, for one reason or another, were committed to a particular course of action. Groups larger than two, and parties with at least some formal avalanche training seem to be most susceptible.
The desire to be noticed and accepted has a powerful influence on human behaviour. There are many possible variations on this theme, including peer group acceptance and gender acceptance. McCammon focused on gender acceptance; specifically, how the presence of women in a group affects the behaviour of men. He found that mixed gender groups exposed themselves to higher risk than all-male groups. The effect does not vary with the number of people in the party. However, groups with only avalanche awareness, but no formal training, exposed themselves to the highest risk.
4. Expert Halo
Following a leader is a very human trait. It helps simplify the task of deciding how to respond to our complex world. But when our follower instinct is triggered by a person due to their personality or perceived level of experience rather than their actual qualifications, it can lead us astray. Indeed, in examining the risks taken by groups with and without a recognized leader, McCammon found that groups without a leader exposed themselves to less risk than those with clear leadership.
5. Social Facilitation
Have you ever felt emboldened by the fact that you were not alone, and that you might have an audience for your exploits? Or conversely, have you ever felt like you didn’t want your relative lack of ability to show when others might be watching? If so, you have experienced what McCammon calls the Social Facilitation trap. He found that groups with at least some formal avalanche training took significantly higher levels of risk when they encountered other parties, whereas those with no training actually exposed themselves to less risk.
The human tendency to value a resource more highly when it is perceived to be scarce has had a profound influence on history. Whether it be oil, gold, or that last jacket on the 80% off clearance rack, people will compete for their share before supply runs out. Not a bad strategy when you’re talking about things like food and water. But when McCammon looked at powder hounds headed for an untracked slope, he found that parties who saw another group headed for the same place took significantly higher risks than if the slope had already been skied. Untracked snow is but one form of scarcity that may affect our decisions in the back country. Maybe our time is scarce; if we don’t ski this weekend, we won’t have another chance until next season. Or maybe we want to be the first on a route to avoid being showered by rock or ice knocked down by another party. Whatever the motivation, a strong sense that we must seize the moment or lose a valuable opportunity can be a warning sign that it’s time to take a deep breath and ask if we’d do the same thing if that opportunity was secure.
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I think 6 is my favorite risk factor. When the winds and waves are perfect it's hard to resist launching even when you know it's sketch.