Society For Risk Analysis Annual Meeting 2013

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

Individual and Societal Risks and Morality

Room: Key Ballroom 3   10:30 AM- 12:00 PM

Chair(s): Frauke Hoss

Sponsored by DASG

M2-C.1  10:30  Moral aspects in the perception of societal risks. Bassarak C*, Pfister HR, Böhm G; Leuphana University Lueneburg; University Bergen

Abstract: Research has long neglected aspects of morality in risk perception. However, recently there is increasing consensus between practitioners and researchers that epistemic risk judgments and moral judgments are closely related. This is particularly the case when it comes to complex societal risks such as terrorism, nuclear power or global warming. These ideas have been supported by a study employing the psychometric paradigm (Slovic, 1987) where we found that dread, a common dimension of risk perception that has been found to be related to perceived overall risk, is highly blended with morality. However, these data were measured explicitly and participants were asked for moral and risk judgments on the same occasion. In a second step, we are now interested in the question whether it makes a difference if one is asked to either give a moral or an epistemic risk judgment about a societal risk. In a laboratory study, participants (N = 51) were explicitly and implicitly asked to give either epistemic risk judgments or moral judgments regarding six societal risk items which were selected on the basis of preceding studies. Implicit judgments were measured using the single target implicit association test which is an assignment test that reports data on errors and latencies. These data are usually transformed into so called D-scores which can be interpreted as effect sizes measures for association strength. An analysis of variance suggests that D-scores are significantly higher in the morality than in the risk condition. From that we conclude that societal risks can be better mapped onto a moral-immoral dimension than onto a risky-safe dimension. Finally, analyses will be presented predicting overall explicit risk judgment with implicit risk and morality judgments. Thus, we seek to gain insight into what affects lay-peoples’ risk judgments and stimulate the discussion how this knowledge may assist political decision making making or risk communication.

M2-C.2  10:50  What do government and non-profit stakeholders want to know about nuclear fuel cycle? A semantic network analysis approach. Li N, Brossard D*, Scheufele D. A.; University of Wisconsin-Madison

Abstract: Effective risk analysis is critical to improving policy decisions on complex technologies with a potential for catastrophic consequences. To accurately assess technological risks, it becomes increasingly important for policymakers to incorporate stakeholder beliefs into the policymaking process. Current debates on the merits and drawbacks of different nuclear fuel cycle scenarios in the U.S. and abroad present a challenge to integrate various concerns of stakeholders with distinct interests. In this study, we adopted a semantic web analysis approach to analyze the different sets of beliefs held by government and non-profit stakeholders about the risks associated with different aspects of nuclear fuel cycle. In particular, we conducted in-depth cognitive interviews with six stakeholders working for federal government and six working for non-profit organizations. Participants were asked to freely talk about the key issues related to nuclear fuel cycle (e.g., economics, safety, resources recycle, and non-proliferation). An artificial neutral network program CATPAC II was used to analyze the 42 pages transcripts of the twelve one-hour-long interviews. Results showed that the major concerns of government stakeholders significantly differ from those of non-profit stakeholders. While government stakeholders had salient concerns about the security of transporting nuclear materials and the implication of nuclear fuel cycle at the state level, non-profit stakeholders did not assign priority to these issues. Moreover, although both groups highlighted the importance of the back-end of nuclear fuel cycle, government stakeholders focused on the feasibility of recycling nuclear material, whereas non-profit stakeholders emphasized the challenges presented by reprocessing. These differences are illuminated through the use of a hierarchical cluster analysis of 47 unique concepts for each group of stakeholders and a visual representation of the associated mental concepts. Implications for risk analysis and policymaking related to the nuclear fuel cycle are discussed.

M2-C.3  11:10  Involuntary Personal, Individual and Societal Risk in relation to Risk Control Policies. Hartford W*, Hartford D; Hartfit Division of Nutritional Health Education

Abstract: The idea of involuntary personal risk is introduced to explore the role of the choices that individuals at risk make in determining the outcome of undesirable events that follow from policies aimed at controlling individual and societal risk levels. Such choices are typically made under conditions of uncertainty rendering them suitable for examination in terms of the principles of risk analysis and the methods of probabilistic decision theories. In order to examine the problem from a general decision-making under uncertainty perspective, a broad spectrum of circumstances where the outcome of an involuntary risk condition depends on both historical and real-time choices of the individuals at risk whose real-time actions during the risk event influence the outcome to some degree. The investigation is bounded by two situations; those where the threat is known, response plans have been established, and the attributes of the risk can be modeled scientifically; and, those where the threat arises from harmful combinations of individually un-harmful things that are recognizable only to individuals who are sufficiently well informed. For the former bound, the knowledge of what to do is institutionalized in the response plan and this knowledge can be imparted to the individuals at risk in a conventional way such that they know generally what to do and the uncertainty around the choices that they make is somewhat limited. In the case of the latter bound, the knowledge as to what to do is either tacit knowledge held by individuals or learned knowledge about the cause – effect relations between the various considerations and entities that create the risk. Using the Life Safety Model simulation process, the paper identifies a framework whereby the models for the former bound can be adapted to address the more complex latter bound in terms of a generalized Bayesian risk modeling environment.

M2-C.4  11:30  What guides spending on risk mitigation: Perceptions or statistics? Hoss F*, Vaishnav P; Carnegie Mellon University

Abstract: People perceive risks on numerous dimensions. They care about different risks more or less than the expected losses from those risks would justify. This puts policymakers in a quandary. Should they prioritize their risk mitigation efforts and resources based on people’s perceptions, or based on some ‘objective’ assessment? Policymakers do not spend equally on mitigating different risks. For example, a wide range of values of statistical life that can be inferred from a range of proposed and actual policy interventions that would reduce the risk of premature mortality. Our research will compare what different countries – in the first instance, the US and the countries of the EU – spend on mitigating different risks. Based on published data, we will work out what the expected value of losses associated with these risks are in each of the countries. Based on survey data, we will find out how residents of these countries perceive each of these risks: for example, to what extent do they think the risk is voluntary. We will then work out whether spending priorities are more closely correlated with expected value of losses or perceived risks in one country or another, and try to explain why these correlations are different. For example, the US and Europe have different approaches to risk mitigation is in the detection and treatment of cancer. Europeans are more likely to die of certain cancers than Americans. A possible explanation is that there is a greater emphasis on regular scans in the US. Surveys suggest that Europeans dread cancer, and place a greater value on preventing the loss of life due to cancer than due to other causes. Why, then, do Europeans place less emphasis on scanning for cancer? Is this a historical artefact? Is this a choice policymakers have made despite public opinion? Do Europeans dread cancer less than Americans do? Do policymakers with different professional backgrounds reach different decisions? Our research will answer such questions.

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