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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

Integrating Criminology, Perception, and Communication to Better Understand Environmental Risks

Room: Commonwealth A   10:30 AM-Noon

Chair(s): Meridith Gore

W2-D.1  10:30  Addressing International Trade in Electronic Waste: Integrating Criminal Justice Strategies into Risk Management. Gibbs C*, McGarrell E; Michigan State University

Abstract: Electronic waste (E-Waste) such as computers, LCDs, cell phones, and circuit boards, has received increasing attention from environmental advocacy groups, the United Nations Environment Program, and governments. Of particular concern is the international trade in E-Waste whereby developed nations ship E-Waste to developing nations that are ill-equipped to properly recycle or dispose of it, resulting in toxic dumps that present significant hazards to human health and the environment. Although national and international laws vary significantly on whether such export is criminal or even subject to regulation, there seems to be growing consensus that the export of E-Waste represents an environmental and human health risk. This presentation provides an overview of risks associated with exporting E-Waste to developing nations and an assessment of gaps in the U.S. regulatory framework designed to address it. Data gathered from multiple methods on the scope and structure of the E-Waste market are presented along with a discussion of criminal, regulatory and broader risk management tools that may be used to intervene.

W2-D.2  10:50  Persuasion, political ideology, and social identity theory: An investigation into factors that affect efforts to communicate climate change. Hart PS*, Nisbet EC; Department of Communication, Cornell University

Abstract: In recent years global warming has become a highly salient and polarizing scientific and political issue. One of the challenges facing science communicators today is how best to communicate the impacts of climate change and other environmental issues to lay audiences who have varying political identities. Drawing from social identity theory, this study uses a mall-intercept experiment to examine how individuals with different political orientations responded to potential in-group and out-group victims of global climate change. Specifically, a 2 (in-group victim vs. out-group victim) X 2 (one victim vs. many victims) experimental design was used to examine how respondents would respond to an altered news story discussing the link between climate change and a likely increase in infectious diseases carried by insects. The study finds that individuals who identify as Democrats or Republicans appear to rely more on ideological markers than the framing of climate change when responding to messages about the issue. However, individuals who identified as independents did respond to the different frames in a manner consistent with social identity theory: independent respondents had the strongest emotional reactions and were most willing to take action when given a story depicting a group of in-group victims, less so with stories depicting individual in-group or out-group victims, and had the weakest emotional reactions and were least willing to take action when given a story depicting a group of out-group victims. These results are discussed in terms of how social identity theory can inform related work on the identified victim effect, how practitioners can best communicate climate change to lay audiences, and future directions for research.

W2-D.3  11:10  Environmental and Security Risk Perception. McGarrell EF*, Gibbs C, Zimmermann CR; Michigan State University

Abstract: The study of risk has included significant attention to perceptions of risk. In addition to characteristics of the hazard, prior research indicates that citizen perceptions of risk are driven by sociopolitical factors including status, alienation, and trust. These dimensions are, in turn, shaped by gender, race, age, and education. This paper attempts to contribute to our understanding of risk perception by analyzing several of the most important and publicly discussed risks in contemporary society: climate change, terrorism, and border security. The paper tests the extent to which common dimensions shape the perception of risk across these domains and the extent to which sociopolitical worldviews distinguish the perceptions of these risks. The data come from a survey of residents of the state of Michigan conducted in the fall of 2007.

W2-D.4  11:30  Who’s afraid of the big bad wolf? Some thoughts about values, environmental concern and perceived risk associated with wildlife management. Clarke C*; Cornell University

Abstract: Understanding how individuals perceive risk associated with wildlife management can help managers better interact and communicate with stakeholders. Building on research that emphasizes the role of personal values and environmental concern in shaping environmental risk perceptions, this presentation explores (from a theoretical angle) how these concepts influence risk judgments about wolf management. As a potential source of both attitude and value-based conflict among stakeholders, wolf management remains controversial in areas where wolves are re-colonizing former range. In particular, the presentation argues three points. First, scholars need to incorporate value conceptualizations that transcend risk contexts. Second, scholars should view “environmental concern” as a manifestation of underlying values, not as end-point determinants of risk perceptions themselves. Finally, research should consider how these two concepts interact with issue attributes to influence risk judgments. Implications for future research, wildlife-related risk communication, and management will be discussed.

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