Mitigating the spread of disease is crucial for the well-being of agricultural production systems. Implementing biosecurity disease prevention measures can be expensive, so producers must balance the costs of biosecurity investments with the expected benefits of reducing the risk of infections. To investigate the risk associated with this decision making process, we developed an online experimental game that simulates biosecurity investment allocation of a pork production facility during an outbreak. Participants are presented with several scenarios that vary the visibility of the disease status and biosecurity protection implemented at neighboring facilities. Certain rounds allowed participants to spend resources to reduce uncertainty and reveal neighboring biosecurity and/or disease status. We then test how this uncertainty affects the decisions to spend simulation dollars to increase biosecurity and reduce risk. We recruited 50 attendees from the 2018 World Pork Expo to participate in our simulation. We compared their performance to an opportunity sample of 50 online participants from the survey crowdsourcing tool, Amazon Mechanical Turk (MTurk). With respect to biosecurity investment, we did not find a significant difference between the risk behaviors of industry professionals and those of MTurk participants for each set of experimental scenarios. Notably, we found that our sample of industry professionals opted to pay to reveal disease and biosecurity information more often than MTurk participants. However, the biosecurity investment decisions were not significantly different during rounds in which additional information could be purchased. To further validate these findings, we compared the risk associated with each group's responses using a well-established risk assessment survey implementing paired lottery choices. Interestingly, we did not find a correlation in risk quantified with simulated biosecurity investment in comparison to the paired lottery choice survey. This may be evidence that general economic risk preferences may not always translate into simulated behavioral risk, perhaps due to the contextual immersion provided by experimental gaming simulations. Online recruitment tools can provide cost effective research quality data that can be rapidly assembled in comparison to industry professionals, who may be more challenging to sample at scale. Using a convenience sample of industry professionals for validation can also provide additional insights into the decision making process. These findings lend support to using online experimental simulations for interpreting risk associated with a complex decision mechanism.
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© 2021 Clark, Merrill, Trinity, Bucini, Cheney, Langle-Chimal, Shrum, Koliba, Zia and Smith.
Clark EM, Merrill SC, Trinity L, Bucini G, Cheney N, Langle-Chimal O, Shrum T, Koliba C, Zia A, Smith JM. Emulating Agricultural Disease Management: Comparing Risk Preferences Between Industry Professionals and Online Participants Using Experimental Gaming Simulations and Paired Lottery Choice Surveys. Frontiers in veterinary science. 2020;7.