Pascal Haegeli, Anne St. Clair, Kelly McNeil, Andrea Mannberg, and Audun Hetland
Proceedings of the 2023 International Snow Science Workshop in Bend, Oregon
Publication year: 2023

Click here to download Pascal’s paper.


The influence of human perception, judgment, and behavior on avalanche safety is well known and has been described in the literature for a long time. One of the most influential works on human factors in the avalanche safety community was the introduction of the concept of heuristics traps by Ian McCammon (2002). More than 20 years later, McCammon’s FACETS remains the main reference for how our community conceptualizes human factors and the tool of choice for introducing the topic to recreationists. However, there is much more to the human dimension of avalanche safety.

Even though the number of social science studies in our field has grown considerably in recent years, we believe that the current perspective is rather limited, many key questions remain unanswered, and as a result, the contribution of social science research to avalanche safety seems far from reaching its potential. To help tackle this issue, we present our perspective of the current high-level challenges that prevent our community from fully benefiting from social science efforts. This includes reflecting on the quality of the existing research but also how social science research is valued and employed in the avalanche safety community. Our reflections are supported with constructive calls-to-action for academic and practitioner researchers conducting social science projects, research users implementing the results of such studies, and managers setting strategic directions and allocating resources.