Society For Risk Analysis Annual Meeting 2012

Advancing Analysis

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

New Voices

Room: Pacific Concourse K   1:30 - 3 PM

Chair(s): Craig Trumbo

T3-B.1  13:30  The same, but different: Theorizing about temporal framing effects of statistical risk messages in health communication. ROH S*; Cornell University

Abstract: As statistical risk messages are widely used to communicate health risks, scholars have investigated the effects of statistical risk messages relative to other approaches. This study aims to clarify the conceptualization and make theoretical predictions about effects of temporal information embedded in statistical risk message (i.e., temporal framing) in response to major obstacles in health risk communication: optimistic bias (discrepancy in self-other risk judgments), cumulative risk judgments (bias in long-term and short-term risk judgments), self-efficacy, negative emotions, and behavioral attributes. The paper begins by explicating and separating temporal information into three dimensions: direction, distance, and duration. Next, the paper reviews and synthesizes existing theories and constructs identified as potential pathways to desired health outcomes (e.g., sustained behavioral change). Third, this paper builds on extant literature in health communication, judgment and decision making, and behavioral economics, presenting an expanded theoretical framework for understanding temporal framing effects of statistical risk messages toward cognitive and affective pathways to health behavior. Specifically, the paper formulates a set of propositions predicting differential impact of each frame on pathways to health behavior, proposing the 3-D Model of Temporal Framing Effects. The 3-D Model of Temporal Framing Effects is intended to provide guidance for future empirical research, and effective communication of risk messages. In sum, the paper offers (1) a clarification of constructs of temporal framing that are critical for studying message design for statistical risk messages, (2) a synthesis of relevant pathways to successful behavioral change, and (3) a set of propositions to guide future empirical studies in temporal framing effects of statistical health risk information.

T3-B.2  13:50   Values or attitudes? Cultural worldviews, climate change attitudes and belief in scientific consensus. Rolfe-Redding J*; J. R.-R.: George Mason University

Abstract: Wide differences exist among the American public in perceptions of whether a scientific consensus exists around climate change. This study sought to extend a cultural cognition explanation for such differences. Kahan and colleagues (Kahan, Jenkins-Smith, & Braman, 2011) have shown that cultural worldviews (individualism and hierarchicalism) were negatively associated with perceptions of scientific consensus in survey data, theorizing that cultural worldviews biased perception and assimilation of available cues about consensus. Yet, such biasing mechanisms are not necessarily driven (only) by worldviews—e.g., personal beliefs about the reality of climate change and attitudes about possible mitigation steps, might also induce such biasing. Research suggests worldviews covary with many such beliefs and attitudes and climate change. Because they did not control for such potential confounds in their models, Kahan et al. were unable to robustly demonstrate the unique role of worldviews as a force in biased cognition. The current study sought to rule out the influence of these confounds by using an augmented model. This model introduced a range of climate-specific variables as additional controls beyond Kahan et al.’s analysis: belief in global warming, belief that it is human caused, climate change behavior self-efficacy, cognitive involvement, information satisfaction, trust in scientists on climate change, and climate change policy attitudes. Results indicated a unique relationship between worldviews (both individualism and hierarchicalism) and perceptions of a scientific consensus, even after controlling for the suspected confounding influence of climate change specific attitudes and beliefs. At the same time, the overall influence of cultural values was shown to be a relatively small factor in predicting consensus perceptions. Results thus offered a more rigorous validation of the cultural cognition hypothesis, while suggesting its relatively minor role.

T3-B.3  14:10  Risk communication: Mental models in the context of natural hazards. Schetula Viola*; University of Stuttgart

Abstract: Risk communication in the context of climate change and natural hazards is gaining in importance. Natural hazards are increasing worldwide in frequency and intensity. My PhD work focuses on natural hazards, risk awareness and risk communication with a special emphasis on insurance issues and adaptation on climate change. My key research question is whether individuals assign prior responsibility for combating climate change and its consequences to politics and economy or to themselves and how they assess their own agency in this respect. I am analyzing the mental models of lay-persons with regard to their concepts of adaptation (as an addition to mitigation) and their own role in adaptation strategies. More specifically, I am interested in the following questions: How do people assess climate change? What is their risk perception? How do people explain climate change and do they associate the experience of more intense and more frequent natural hazards with climate change? Which kind of information would be appropriate for lay-persons to gain a better understanding of the implications of climate change for their life? How do people assess the role of insurance companies in this context? How do people assess their own responsibility regarding mitigation and adaptation? For eliciting mental models I am conducting qualitative interviews with a selected sample of citizens in different areas. My concept and methodology is inspired by the work of of Morgan et al. Beyond the mental models that Morgan et al, were able to represent in their work I am specifically interested in the mental connections between climate change and natural hazards and the distribution of responsibility and agency among ordinary citizens.

T3-B.4  14:30  Public perceptions of sea-level change on the Severn Estuary, UK. Thomas MJ*, Pidgeon N, Whitmarsh L, Ballinger R; Cardiff University

Abstract: Anthropogenic climate change is predicted to pose a growing threat to people around the world. This is particularly salient for those living in low-lying coastal zones, which are vulnerable to sea-level rise and changes in extreme events. As people become increasingly exposed to the risks, understanding their beliefs and responses will become more important. However, whilst research has identified differences in lay and expert understandings of climate change, we do not yet know how these groups understand sea-level rise and extreme events. This study uses a mental models approach to explore and compare expert and public perceptions of the risks of future sea-level change and extreme events on the Severn Estuary in the southwest of the UK, with a view to the future design of risk communications. In this paper we report the findings of the second phase of the study, involving (n=22) mental models interviews carried out in 2012 with members of the public living around the Severn Estuary. Each session included a semi-structured interview, a picture sorting task, and the creation of a cognitive map. Quantitative content analyses facilitated the development of a combined public mental model of the risks, which was compared with an expert model developed from elite interviews (n=11) carried out in 2011. A comparison of the two models identifies gaps, misunderstandings and differences between expert and lay models of risk, while a qualitative thematic analysis addresses non-epistemic topics such as values and world views. Together with pure applications to mental models research, the findings have implications for designing risk communications that will meet the needs of the public, both on the Severn Estuary and in other vulnerable areas.

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