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Society For Risk Analysis Annual Meeting 2008

Risk Analysis: the Science and the Art

Session Schedule & Abstracts

* Disclaimer: All presentations represent the views of the authors, and not the organizations that support their research. Please apply the standard disclaimer that any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations in abstracts, posters, and presentations at the meeting are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of any other organization or agency. Meeting attendees and authors should be aware that this disclaimer is intended to apply to all abstracts contained in this document. Authors who wish to emphasize this disclaimer should do so in their presentation or poster. In an effort to make the abstracts as concise as possible and easy for meeting participants to read, the abstracts have been formatted such that they exclude references to papers, affiliations, and/or funding sources. Authors who wish to provide attendees with this information should do so in their presentation or poster.

Common abbreviations

Visual Tools

Room: Grand Ballroom D   10:30 AM-Noon

Chair(s): Hiromi Hosono

T2-B.1    Evidence maps - a tool for summarizing and communicating evidence in assessment of uncertain noxes and its practical appliance: Two case studies. Spangenberg A*, Fleischer T, Hocke-Bergler P, Kastenholz H, Krug HF, Quendt C, Schuetz H, Wiedemann PM; Research Center Juelich, Research Center Karlsruhe, EMPA

Abstract: The initial idea to develop this tool was to deliver a possibility to handle uncertain risks, i.e. risks about which there is little or inconsistent scientific data. Evidence assessment based on such data can be difficult. There are several approaches to evidence assessment which have different purposes and focus on different aspects accordingly. The method we apply is that of ‘Evidence Maps’. Our purpose in its development is to create a tool for communication about inconsistent results from studies and of dissimilar scientific expertise with different stakeholders. In order to reach this goal, the method provides for applying scientific argumentation backing up the evidence assessment as well as its transparent and unambiguous graphical presentation. This is achieved by the following elements of an evidence weighting process: database, arguments for or against the existence of a causal relationship between exposure to a (potential) hazard and the biological effect that is considered, as well as the conclusions based on such argumentation and the remaining uncertainties. This line of argument is graphically presented in the so-called ‘evidence map’ (inspired by the ‘Mental Models’ approach). A key part of generating evidence map input is scientific dialogue. Based on two case studies (evidence assessment of the health-relevant impact of mobile EMF and engineered nanoparticles) we show the practical implementation of the method. Because of the differences in the evidence base and the specifics of the two noxes considered, this processes demonstrate some differences as well. In addition, we tested evidence maps as a means of communication between scientific experts. Together with the unalloyed positive experience we gathered in this communication, we present some weak points of the model, which we are anxious to eliminate in our ongoing work on this approach.

T2-B.2  10:50  Visual validity: how scientific intent translates through visuals to evoke public understanding of science and risk assessment . Eosco GM*; Cornell University

Abstract: Visuals are at the forefront of providing information in today’s society. They are on the front page of every newspaper, highlighted on the evening news, all around the Internet, and in every textbook used. They are particularly important in explaining risk and scientific processes such as the intricacies of climate change or the risks of cancer treatments. These visuals do not simply appear in the newspaper or on television without thought, but often have a distinct objective or purpose given to them by their creator. The original objective of the graphic may not be achieved because viewers may misunderstand or misinterpret the graphic. Misinterpretations of risk visuals, such as hurricane track graphics, may have harmful consequences. Therefore, it is critically important to understand how scientific intent translates through visuals to evoke public understanding of science and risk assessment, a process that the author calls visual validity. Researchers often consider the validity of their studies asking themselves if their methodologies accurately measured what they intended to measure. Why not apply a similar process to visuals? Scientists should also consider whether their visual is presenting what they intended to present. This paper explores the concept of visual validity through an experimental study in which participants are asked to provide their understanding and interpretation of the cone of uncertainty, a highly visible hurricane track graphic. A comparison of this data is made with the scientific intent of the graphic as determined by in-depth interviews with hurricane forecasters. The case study provides the first glimpse at showing how accurately intent translates through visuals to create visual validity.

T2-B.3    Influence of the use of risk ladders on risk perception depending on numeracy. Keller C*; ETH Zurich, Institute for Environmental Decisions (IED)

Abstract: The use of graphical displays has often been recommended, especially for risk communication with low-numerate individuals. Risk ladders are graphical displays that are used to communicate environmental risks. There is little empirical evidence, however, about the effect of risk ladders on risk perception. Furthermore, it is not known how low-numerate individuals interpret risk ladders compared to high-numerate individuals. Past research indicates that the comprehension of low-numerate individuals is not necessarily improved by communication formats that provide comparative information in graphical displays. Utilizing a random sample from the general population, we examined the effect of the radon risk ladder on risk perception. The radon risk ladder provides comparative risk information about the radon equivalent of smoking risk. We compared a risk ladder providing smoking risk information with a risk ladder not providing this information. A 2(numeracy; high, low) x 3(risk level; high, middle, low) x 2(smoking risk comparison: with/without) experimental design was used. Results showed that participants with low numeracy skills as well as participants with high numeracy skills generally distinguished between low, middle and high risk levels when the risk ladder with comparative smoking risk information was presented. When the risk ladder without the comparative information about the smoking risk was presented, low-numerate individuals differentiated between risk levels to a much lower extent than high-numerate individuals did. These results provide empirical evidence that the risk ladder can be a useful tool in enabling people to interpret various risk levels. Additionally, these results allow us to conclude that providing comparative information within a risk ladder is particularly helpful to the understanding of different risk levels by people with low numeracy skills.

T2-B.4    Re-investigating the factors affecting consumers’ food-related risk perception; a cross-national case study applying laddering method. Niiyama Y, Hosono H*, Kawamura R, Kiyohara A, Kudo H, Kito Y; Kyoto University, Kyoto University, Ritsumeikan University, Chugokugakuen University, Kyoto University, Kyoto University

Abstract: The gap in risk perception between experts and general public has been well established in many risks. To carry consensus-based food-related risk management, thorough understanding of consumers’ perception of risks, knowledge, attitude, and behavior as well as factors affecting them is essential. According to previous studies, not only the characteristics of hazard and/or risks but also individual and social factors such as socio-demographic and personality characteristics, confidence on institutions, experience and socio-cultural background etc. influence the risk perception of consumers. Although the uniqueness of psychological concerns in food related risks have been indicated, quantitative research on public risk perception on food have often been conducted based on the fact indicated by Slovic which covered wide range of risks. In this study, we tried to investigate the factors and reasons why does consumer perceive specified food-related risk as high or low by applying laddering method. In-depth face-to-face interview were conducted on 46 female who are mother of school-aged-child; 11 in Japan, 11 in Korea, 11 in USA and 13 in Vietnam. Along with rating food-related risk of 14 hazards including chemical and biological substances and dietary pattern, the respondents were asked the reasons why they think the specific hazard as high or low risk. Then, continuous question why the mentioned factor makes her feel the risk as high/low until no new factors are indicated. The results indicated that the perception of risk severity of food-related hazards varied between countries. Moreover, the factors affecting their perception also were characterized among countries. Japanese respondents tend to judge the risk by recalling visual scenery or image. On the other hand, logical thinking (apart from accuracy of knowledge) was observed in US and confidence on government and experts were mentioned in Korea.

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